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Environmental Assessment

Schrimp Virus Report


EPA is making available a draft final report of a peer review and risk assessment workshop on shrimp viruses, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Center for Environmental Assessment, on behalf of the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA), National Science and Technology Council, held January 7-8, 1998. The report, completed under contract to the EPA, develops a qualitative ecological risk assessment describing the potential risks of nonindigenous pathogenic shrimp viruses on wild shrimp populations in U.S. coastal waters. Expert conclusions and recommendations contained in the report are currently undergoing an independent scientific review. Publication of this draft final report is another in a series of related activities initiated out of increasing public concerns over the potential introduction and spread of nonindigenous pathogenic shrimp viruses to the wild shrimp fishery and shrimp aquaculture industry in the U.S. Although these viruses pose no threat to human health, outbreaks on U.S. shrimp farms, the appearance of diseased shrimp in U.S. commerce, and new information on the susceptibility of shrimp and other crustaceans to these viruses, prompted the JSA to take action. In response, the JSA tasked a Federal interagency Shrimp Virus Work Group with assessing the shrimp virus problem. This group developed a preliminary report (entitled, "An Evaluation of Potential Shrimp Virus Impacts on Cultured Shrimp and on Wild Shrimp Populations in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeastern U.S. Atlantic Coastal Waters" (JSA Shrimp Virus Report)) structured according to the problem formulation phase of an ecological risk assessment, that includes a proposed conceptual model, management goal, and assessment endpoints, and discusses potentail virus effects and shrimp biology. To obtain public comment on the document, EPA sponsored (on behalf of the JSA) a series of stakeholder meetings during July 1997, including the shrimp industry (fisheries, aquaculture, and processing), state and Federal agencies, environmental organizations, and the public. At the January 1998, EPA-sponsored peer review and risk assessment workshop, scientific and technical experts developed a qualitative ecological risk assessment. The workshop report concludes that viruses could survive in pathways leading to coastal environments, and that there is potential for viruses to affect native shrimp in localized areas, such as an estuary or bay. However, it notes that local populations of shrimp would recover rapidly as a result of reintroduction of shrimp or increases in reproduction. Although there was high uncertainty, the report concludes that the risks from viral introductions to the entire population of native shrimp in U.S. coastal waters is relatively low. While qualitative evaluations such as these are valuable, the report concludes that they are associated with a great deal of uncertainty. Therefore, given the limited information currently available, the report states that it is not feasible to conduct a more comprehensive, quantitative assessment of the risks associated with nonindigenous pathogenic shrimp viruses at this time. The report notes that there is a need to conduct further systematic research efforts to reduce uncertainty and it identifies a number of priority reserach areas. The report, and the results of the independent scientific review, will be used as the basis for a risk management workshop on shrimp viruses scheduled for July 28-29, 1998 in New Orleans [see Federal Register 63(130)36895-36896 (July 8, 1998)], that will develop options and strategies for managing the threat of shrimp virtues to cultured and wild stocks of shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern U.S. Atlantic coastal waters.

For more information, contact: Dr. Kay Austin; e-mail: austin.kay@epa.gov; telephone: 202-564-3328; fax: 202-565-0066

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New, virulent viruses have been documented in foreign shrimp aquaculture, and evidence suggests that these viruses could cause widespread disease in shrimp raised in aquaculture and in wild shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern Atlantic coastal regions. To assess the risks associated with these emerging viral pathogens, the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA), which is under the auspices of the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy, formed the interagency Shrimp Virus Work Group. On June 5, 1997, the Work Group submitted a report to the JSA entitled An Evaluation of Potential Shrimp Virus Impacts on Cultured Shrimp and Wild Shrimp Populations in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeastern U.S. Atlantic Coastal Waters (Shrimp Virus Report). During July 1997, the EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA), in cooperation with the JSA, sponsored a series of public meetings to gather stakeholder input on the shrimp virus issue. Provided here are the minutes of those stakeholder meetings. Of the four appendices, only one is available as an electronic file. A link is provided to Appendix D, which contains the June 1997 Shrimp Virus Report. Information on how to obtain paper copies of the full document is provided under availability.

Document size: 760K
Email contact: William vander Schalie

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