COA chief Chen Wu-hsiung confirmed more than TWD 10 million has been granted to promote grouper vaccine development. (Photo: COA/ Stock File)
Govt steps up grouper vaccine effort
Tuesday, July 06, 2010, 21:30 (GMT + 9)
The government is stepping up efforts to develop vaccines against two viruses that have plagued local grouper farmers for nearly a decade, the head of the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA) said Monday.
COA chief Chen Wu-hsiung said the council's Fisheries Administration has appropriated TWD 10.43 million (USD 323,900) to promote developing the vaccines, and National Taiwan Ocean University has also been given TWD 10.5 million (USD 326,100) to conduct research on the viruses and acquacultural technology.
The initiative hopes to fortify the government's plan to double the sales of grouper to TWD 8 billion (USD 248.5 million) in 2013 from the present TWD 4 billion (USD 124,200), but efforts to develop vaccines have also gained new urgency because of the potential for greater exports with China, CNA reports.
Grouper was one of the items included in the early harvest list of the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with Beijing, meaning it will be given preferential tariff treatment when entering China once the deal takes effect.
Chen said local grouper farmers have been troubled by the indovirus and nervous necrosis virus for quite a long time.
This year's unpredictable weather has also added to their woes, resulting in fry production being cut by 30 per cent, Chen said.
Chen said that the viruses have been long existed, and the COA activated an inter-government agency project to develop vaccines against the viruses about five years ago, although the vaccines have yet to be developed.
"At present, there is a bio test kit that can detect if the fish has been infected with virus," Chen said. "Pond operators can use them to monitor and manage the fish ponds."
He also urged fish farm operators to keep their water running instead of letting it sit stagnant and prevent their fish from being too crowded together.
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