Catfish face catastrophe
A PATHOGEN which caused devastating losses in the aquaculture industry in the US has been detected in wild Australian catfish in the Tully River.
Murdoch University researchers, who made the discovery, say the pathogen causes the disease enteric septicaemia in catfish.
The bacterium, known as Edwardsiella ictaluri, is considered one of the most significant pathogens of farmed catfish in the US and has also caused mortalities in farmed and wild fishes in many other parts of the world.
It has previously been detected in imported fish and aquarium facilities in Australia but wild species had not been surveyed for the disease until the Murdoch study.
The researchers say more investigation is required to determine the susceptibility and tolerance of native fish species to the bacterium.
They also want to clarify whether E. ictaluri is a recently introduced or native strain.
Associate Professor Alan Lymbery said if the pathogen affected Australian fish species in a similar way to cultured catfish in the US, the freshwater biodiversity of Australia’s rivers could be impacted.
“The presence of E. ictaluri in wild Australian fishes may also have economic consequences,” he said.
“Australia’s ornamental fish industry has been valued at $350 million, with up to 15 million fishes imported and 700,000 exported per year.”
AT RISK: A dangerous pathogen been detected in wild catfish.