Disease quarantines Kahuku farm's shrimp
The state Department of Agriculture has ordered a quarantine at a Kahuku shrimp farm after laboratory testing found a potentially serious shrimp disease in one pond.
Discovery of the virus may threaten survival of the only remaining shrimp-raising business in Kahuku, according to an owner.
No shrimp may be moved to or from the premises of the Ming Dynasty Fish and Shrimp Co. under the order issued Friday by state veterinarian James Foppoli. Laboratory tests revealed that six of 12 shrimp samples taken March 16 from an above-ground concrete pond tested positive. Other broodstock in the shrimp hatchery tested negative.
The Taura syndrome virus is not harmful to humans, even if consumed, according to an Agriculture Department release. It typically spreads among shrimp stock and kills them quickly, the state said.
The shrimp farm has not sold shrimp in more than a year, said Nicolas Lynn, co-owner of Ming Dynasty Fish and Shrimp Co.
When the virus was found nearly two years ago, "I had to kill all the shrimp," Lynn said. "We closed down all the ponds and let them dry out, also the hatchery. We cleaned them for three months and got new blue (breeding) stock from Oceanic Institute.
"No other farms survived in Hawaii; all the others are already gone," Lynn said. "If this doesn't work, we might have to close it up and raise something else instead of shrimp. I expect we will spend another half-million just to maintain it."
Lynn said the business sold shrimp only to wholesalers for use on Oahu, no exports to other islands or elsewhere. Ming Dynasty was not the supplier for several roadside shrimp stands on the North Shore.
The business participates in the state Aquaculture Development Program, which certifies farms as pathogen-free with its testing program. The test samples were analyzed at the University of Arizona at Tucson, Aquaculture Pathology Laboratory. Additional samples were taken Thursday.