MPI investigates kanakana/lamprey with unusual skin markings
31 August 2012
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is once again investigating the appearance of kanakana (also known as lamprey) with unusual skin markings in Southland rivers.
The investigation follows the recent discovery of a small number of the eel-like animals with skin lesions in the Mataura River.
MPI Response Manager Simon McDonald says the Ministry’s Animal Health Laboratory is currently examining samples taken from two kanakana submitted by a local fisherman.
Last year the Ministry (then MAF) received a number of reports of dying or dead kanakana with unusual skin markings during the annual migration in Southland rivers.
“We investigated whether this condition was due to an infectious agent, like a bacterium or virus, that had not been seen in New Zealand before and if so, what its impacts might be – for example on customary fishing, on other species and on aquaculture,” Mr McDonald says.
“Unfortunately, the work had to be put on hold late last year because the up-stream migration ended and no further fresh specimens were available for testing.”
Mr McDonald says while the Ministry’s laboratory managed to find certain bacteria present in the samples, it was never able to determine that this was the actual cause of the kanakana deaths or whether other factors, for example environmental conditions, were involved in the condition. The identification of the bacteria also needed further work, which could not continue without fresh samples.
MPI is about to send a team into the field to capture suitable samples to carry out the necessary laboratory testing to once again try to identify what’s going on.
“In the meantime, we recommend people finding kanakana with unusual red skin markings note the location, how many are affected and contact our 0800 free-phone – 0800 80 99 66. This will allow us to build up a picture of how widely distributed the problem is,” Mr McDonald says.
“At this point, we plan to collect all the necessary samples for laboratory testing, as the method of collection and processing is crucial to getting suitable samples. We do not need people to submit dead or affected kanakana for testing.”
For further information, contact:
Lesley Patston, Senior Communications Adviser, Ph. 029 8940163