FDA detains all catfish from China

  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced late last month that it will now detain several fish imports hom China, including catfish, due to continued detection of banned chemicals in the fish.
  The action covered all farm-raised catfish, basa, shrimp, dace (related to carp), and eel from China. FDA said it will start to detain Il,ese products at the border until the shipments are proven to be free of residues from drugs that are not approved in the United States for use in farm-raised aquatic animals.
  This action by FDA, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “will protect American consumers from unsafe residues that have been detected in these products,” the agency said.
  “We’re taking this strong step because of current and continuing
evidence that certain Chinese aquaculture products imported into the
United States contain illegal substances that are not permitted in seafood sold in the United States,” said Dr. David Acheson, FDA’s assistant commissioner for food protection. “We will accept entries of these products from Chinese firms that demonstrate compliance with our requirements and safety standards.”
  He said that during targeted sampling from October 2006 through May 2007, FDA repeatedly found that farm-raised seafood imported from China were contanlinated with antimicrobial agents that are not
approved for this use in the United States.
  FDA said the contaminants were the antimicrobials nitrofuran, malachite green, gentian violet, and fluoroquinolone. Nitrofuran, malachite green, and gentian violet have been shown to be carcinogenic with longterm exposure in lab animals. The use of fluoroquinolones in food animals may increase antibiotic resistance to this critically important class of antibiotics.
  None of these substances is approved for use in farm-raised seafood in the United States, and the use of nitrofurans and malachite green in aquaculture is also prohibited by Chinese authorities. Chinese officials have acknowledged that fluoroquinolones are used in Chinese aquaculure and are permilled for use in China.
  FDA said the levels of the drug residues that have been found in seafood are very low, most often at or near the minimum level of detection. FDA is not seeking recall of products already in U.S. commerce and is not advising consumers to destroy or return imported farm-raised seafood they may already have in their homes FDA is concerned about long term exposure as well as the possible development of antibiotic resistance, the agency said.
  The FDA action includes conditions under which an exporter can be exempted from FDA’s detention action by providing specified information to the agency This information must demonstrate the exporter has implemented stops to ensure its products do not contain these substances and that preventive controls are in place, the agency said. The additional import controls placed on seafood from China will last as long as needed.
  FDA may allow the entry into the United States and subsequent distribution into the marketplace of individual shipments of the Chinese
farm-raised seafood products if the company provides documentation to confirm the products are free of residues of these drugs.
  Roger Barlow, president of The Catfish Institute, said following the
FDA’s June 28 news release, “We thank the Administration and our  elected officials in Washington for doing what is right in food safety and consumer protection.”
  According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, China exports of
frozen channel catfish fillets to the U.S. totaled 10.6 million pounds for
the first four months of 2007, up 556% from the same period in 2006.
Last year China exports of catfish fillets to the U.S. totaled more than 11 million pounds.

Delta bass: Different, yet equal

Thursday, January 31, 2008 By JEFF DUTE Outdoors Editor

  Based on testing from the Mobile-Tensaw Delta that began last summer, researchers believe the largemouth bass there are a different, genetically-isolated stock of fish.
  “This does not mean they are a different subspecies or that they are highly adapted to estuarine environments, but it does appear they have been isolated from other bass populations for a long time,” said Rusty Wright, associate professor and extension specialist in fisheries with Auburn University. “There is still a lot of testing left to do, but we’ve seen genetic markers found in the bass on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta that we have not seen in any other bass population tested so far.”
  Wright said Delta bass genetics are being compared to Northern-strain fish from Minnesota, Florida-strain fish and bass raised at the Marion Fish Hatchery in Marion, Ala., that are a cross between Northern and Florida-strain fish.
  Much of what Auburn scientists have discovered about Delta bass was presented at the Management and Research of Coastal and Estuarine Largemouth Bass Symposium held last week at the Alabama Conservation Departments District V office on the Causeway.
  Scientists from Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and Alabama made presentations designed to give researchers an idea of what other states were seeing in their coastal bass populations.
  Wright said stock isolation occurs when fish like Delta bass, which are able to breed with bass outside of the Delta, apparently have not done so for so long that the fish now have either lost any genetic markers they may have had from pure Northern- and Florida-strain fish or they never had them to begin with.
  The decision to begin looking at Delta bass at the genetic level came after Auburn researchers looked at data they had collected from 7,000 bass over a five-year period while trying to answer fishermen’s concerns over a lack of big bass across the estuary.
  “Our earlier research showed that the Delta fish have a different growth pattern, don’t live as long and have a high caloric density that results in a dense, fatty fish and they really don’t seem to get very large,” Wright said. “Anglers aren’t imagining that. There just aren’t many big bass in the Delta.”
  Wright said the question of why the Delta produces a bunch of “football-shaped” fish that seem to eat more than bass in other areas but grow at lower length-to-age rates may be attributable to this genetic difference.
  “I can’t say that with absolute certainty because there is still a bunch of testing to do, but at least we can see there may be a genetic basis and that these animals may just be designed to do what they do,” he said.
  Wright said the implications of these early findings for bass fishermen may not be immediately known.
  “The state of the largemouth bass population on the Delta is not necessarily a problem from a scientific standpoint,” he said. “The population is not unhealthy. The population numbers are pretty good, so they are obviously reproducing at a healthy level. I guess in a way they are doing what they think they are supposed to do. They do fine.
  “Even though we do not know exactly what’s going on with them, I feel certain it is not something to be fixed even though as anglers we would still like to have large fish in the system. If you were to ask me today if there was a management strategy to make there be more big fish in the system, I’d have to say not today.”
  Wright said, however, one of the exciting things to come out of last week’s symposium was finding out that other coastal areas are seeing similar results from very preliminary testing on their coastal bass populations.
  “We talked to others and found out what we are seeing is consistent with other estuarine systems in regard to not-so-long-lived fish, not many over 5 pounds and the same football body type,” he said. “Alabama has the best information on its coastal bass of everybody, but we are hoping the symposium is going to lead to a comparative project among coastal states which will give us a lot more power to figure out what’s going on with coastal bass and ultimately how to best manage them if that becomes necessary.

Department Website Improving User Experiences

  When Troy Hahn, the IT specialist for the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, was tasked with improving the department’s overall web presence, he turned to Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium software, including Adobe Dreamweaver CS3, to create a more dynamic site that delivered a more engaging experience for a wide variety of visitors. The site needed to showcase complex graduate and undergraduate department programs to prospective students, provide researchers worldwide with rapid access to scientific information, and serve up regional environmental data to the community at large.  To Read More…

Fish Health Awareness: Vigilance Against Emerging Aquatic Diseases


Jeff Terhune and Karl Hayden

Southeastern Cooperative Fish Disease Project

Auburn University, AL

The state of Alabama has some of the most uniquely diverse aquatic resources and environments in the country. Alabama boasts 77,242 miles of river and stream channels, 3,627,600 acres of wetland and 563,000 acres of ponds, lakes, and reservoirs (Alabama River Alliance). From the rugged gorges of the Tennessee River Valley in the north, to the coastal plains and marine habitats in the extreme southern portions of the state, Alabama’s aquatic environments are as diverse as the people that use and enjoy them. Alabama ranks second in the nation in number of fish species, with 303 freshwater species of fish, 20 of which are endemic to Alabama (Alabama Natural Heritage Program).  No other state has as many snails, mussels and crayfish as Alabama. Our state has 60% of the North America’s freshwater mussels, 7 of which are found only in Alabama. Of the nation’s freshwater snails, 43% are found in Alabama, of which 106 species are native to the state.

While enjoying ourselves on the water, we will occasionally see a fish that has unsightly sores, or a dead fish floating by. In most instances, the fleeting thought that goes through most people’s minds is “I wonder what caused that fish to die?”  It is most often left at that and we don’t give it another thought. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it is usually when large numbers of fish die in a stretch of river frequented by anglers or when dozens of fish wash up on swimming beaches, which tend to attract the public’s attention.  But this does not just occur to wild fish, as pond owners who have devoted countless hours and monetary investment developing bass “dream lakes”, are quite devastated when their prized animals are found dead or floating lifelessly, often with no apparent explanation. With so many rare and endangered species of aquatic animal life, we are very fortunate to have vigilant people, who are concerned when they see dead or dying fish and other aquatic animals. Oftentimes, people who see these things would like to report dying fish, or maybe just learn more about particular diseases affecting aquatic wildlife.

Part of the mission of the Southeastern Cooperative Fish Disease Project and Diagnostic Center operated by Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures of Auburn University is to help answer people’s questions regarding various aquatic disease issues and determine the cause of many of these problems. If problems are reported early, a timely diagnosis can be determined, and treatment recommendations can be made (when feasible) to help resolve the issue or suggest ways to prevent future occurrences.

Without getting overly technical, aquatic diseases and deaths can be separated into two broad groups; Non-infectious diseases and infectious diseases.

Non-infectious diseases can be caused by genetic factors; inherited traits passed down from parents to offspring. These cases are less numerous and vary in the degree that they affect the fish population. For example, if 50 fish in a population of 50,000 have severe genetic deformities, the chance of observing a deformed fish would be low.  The severity of the deformity can also determine whether or not the fish will be more susceptible to predation, malnutrition, or disease. Some genetic problems may be an indicator of a low level toxin or heavy metal being released into the environment, while others are just randomly occurring genetic mutations.  Fish can develop cancerous tumors as a result of exposure to certain carcinogens in the water or genetic predisposition. As in humans, some tumors are benign and others can progress to eventually kill that individual.

Environmental problems that result in large numbers of fish dying (fish kills) in a short amount of time are usually related to rapid changes in water quality conditions. Examples include loss of oxygen due to changes in the algal blooms, industrial discharges, or some other toxic release. When these types of kills occur, they rarely go unnoticed by the public and the cause can be determined if is reported while the fish kill is still occurring or shortly thereafter.

In recreational ponds, the most common problem that causes catastrophic losses is due to lack of oxygen in the water. This condition usually results when algal blooms in the pond die and oxygen is consumed as the cells decompose. The most common indicator of this is a rapid change in the water color.  The pond color often changes from green to brown, with fish swimming very slowly or gasping at the surface. Oxygen-related deaths can also occur after rain storms in what is often termed a “turnover”. Organic material in the form of dead algal cells, dead plant material, (decaying leaves, etc.) tend to build up on the bottom of ponds creating a layer of water without oxygen. When rainwater enters the pond, it is often cooler than the upper water layers and will sink to the bottom stirring up this bottom layer of water that ultimately consumes all the oxygen in the water. The best way to avoid this type of loss is to follow good management practices such as fertilization rates that do not lead to algal blooms that are too dense to be supported by the amount of nutrients in the pond. Good management practices for fish ponds can be found with the Alabama Extension Service web site on recreational fishing (www.aces.edu/dept/fisheries) or with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources/Division of Freshwater Fisheries (www.outdooralabama.com).

Infectious diseases are those caused by other living organisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites that are spread from fish to fish.  Most of these organisms are found in all aquatic environments and usually do not cause severe problems. However, fish can become stressed due to a wide variety of sub-optimal environmental conditions, resulting in suppressed immune response or other physiological imbalances that can predispose fish to infections. An example of this is in the spring of the year when fish are spawning. This activity causes many types of stressors due to hormonal changes occurring in the fish, as well as skin lesions resulting from aggressive behavior, especially of “nesting type” fish that are protecting their eggs. These conditions create an opportune time for bacteria, parasites, or fungi to infect the fish and eventually even cause death if severe enough.  Some diseases occur seasonally, when conditions are optimal for that particular pathogen, while some diseases can occur at any time of year.

One area of infectious diseases that especially anglers need to be aware of is emerging diseases. As mentioned above, most of the organisms that affect fish are located in all bodies of water, however, a few are just being introduced into new regions of the country and fishermen can be a pivotal link in helping to prevent the spread of some of these diseases. Two examples of this are largemouth bass virus (LMBV) and viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). In the case of LMBV, this virus affects largemouth bass primarily when they become stressed due to high temperatures and after angling. This virus seems to target larger bass unlike many viruses that affect the younger, smaller fish. LMBV has been found in many of the public waterways and reservoirs in the southern and Midwestern states. Viruses and other diseases are often spread by anglers catching infected fish and not thoroughly cleaning their boat’s live wells and other equipment before fishing in new body of waters or taking fish from one location and releasing them in another water body that may not have the disease.

VHS is a newly emerging viral disease that currently is contained in the Great Lakes Region of the country. This virus has been found to kill a wide variety of fish and could impact many of the prized sport fish in the southern U.S. if it were to be introduced here. VHS is being closely monitored by the federal government on its movement. If anyone is planning a trip to the Great Lakes please be sure to clean all equipment before fishing in other bodies of water. For more information on this disease see www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/vhs/vhs.shtml.

If you have questions on diseases of fish or need to submit a sample to our laboratory, contact us at 334-844-9220 or contact your nearest district fisheries biologist.


Fulbright Visiting Specialists Program


By: Mamiko Hada

  Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program which provides opportunities to
scholars/professionals who are U.S. citizens, to visit various countries
for a range of 3-12 months in the academic year 2009-10 to conduct
research, lecture or engage in a combination of research/lecturing at anoverseas university or research institute.
  As a Fulbright Visiting Specialist, I trust you have come to know
numerous scholars/professionals who would benefit from a Fulbright
grant, especially in the field of religion/Islam or just to share their
expertise. CIES is currently recruiting American academics and
professionals to apply for Fulbright awards, and would love to have your assistance in encouraging your American colleagues to consider applying.
  Your university/department may also wish to serve as a host institution to these American Fulbrighters, in which case you are encouraged to provide an invitation letter to the American applicant. A terminal degree and U.S. citizenship are required for this grant.
  Amongst the countries that I work with, Indonesia and Malaysia have
specific awards pertaining to Islam in the Islamic Studies award
(http://www.cies.org/award_book/award2009/award/Isl9137.htm for
Indonesia; http://www.cies.org/award_book/award2009/award/Isl9155.htm
for Malaysia) and in Comparative Religion award
The deadline is August 1st, 2008.
  Would you be so kind to forward this message to whom you think would benefit from a Fulbright grant? I’d also like to add that the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers grants in over 150 countries, so if your American colleague is interested in other countries, pls encourage them to visit our website to review all other possibilities at:

Mamiko Hada
Program Officer
Council for International Exchange of Scholars
3007 Tilden Street, NW, Suite 5L
Washington, DC 20008-3009
tel: 202/686-7873
fax: 202/362-3442

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