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Pilchard Herpesvirus in Australia 1995-1999

Whittington, R.J., Jones, J.B.ORCID: 0000-0002-0773-2007 and Hyatt, A.D. (2002) Pilchard Herpesvirus in Australia 1995-1999. In: 5th Symposium on Diseases in Asian Aquaculture, 24 - 28 November 2002, Queensland, Australia

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Two epizootics have occurred in populations of the Australasian pilchard Sardinops sagax neopilchardus in waters of southern Australia. The first occurred between March and September 1995. It is thought to be the largest fish kill ever recorded and is also unique in the geographic extent of the mortalities. The economic loss attributed to the 1995 mortality event was in excess of A$ 12 million. The second occurred in 1998-1999 when approximately 60% of the total pilchard biomass in Southern and Western Australian waters was lost. After the 1998-1999 epizootic, two of the three pilchard fisheries of Western Australia were closed for a season and although the national economic impact has not been formally assessed, it exceeded A$ 15 million in Western Australia alone (Gaut, 2001). In 1995 mortalities occurred along more than 5000 km of the Australian coastline (Fig. 1) and also affected pilchards in New Zealand. The disease front spread from its origin in South Australia at about 30 km/day, often against prevailing currents and was not impeded by storm events. Thus it was not caused by planktonic toxins/pathogens. Likewise, there was no consistent association of the mortalities with environmental parameters such as temperature or salinity.

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