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Penguin News Update.

Friday, October 21st 2005 - 20:00 UTC
Full article

First steps for toothfish hatchery; Hospital's precautionary plan for ?bird flu';
News in brief
Racecourse talks; Nordnorge kicks off season; Jail after night of assaults; Candidate list still growing.

First steps for toothfish hatchery

THE new temporary toothfish hatchery at Stanley's port, FIPASS, took its first major steps this week with the arrival of a number of live specimens. On Wednesday, following a trawl by Fishery Patrol Vessel Dorada, the Consolidated Fisheries Ltd (CFL) and Fortuna Ltd hatchery received three toothfish. Hamish Wylie reported that one "was not looking too well" but the other two soon tuned into the artificial current and seemed content with their surroundings. The company's original plan was to catch some pregnant females and mature males in July so that eggs could be stripped and placed in incubation. Due to unforeseen problems this was not successful. Now, Mr Wylie said, a variety of fish are being placed in the hatchery fish pond to monitor their "adjustment and behaviour" prior to the next spawning season. Mr Wylie said it was encouraging that the fish are surviving Stanley Harbour water with only rudimentary treatment. "They have also been successful at hatching fish eggs from both South Georgia and the Falklands taken from depths up to 1,100m. "The life span of the fish after hatching was encouraging and indicated that the water currently being taken from the harbour at FIPASS was not likely to present a problem. "Samples have also been sent to Germany for thorough analysis to find out everything possible about what the water may contain." The main problem with catching toothfish using a trawler, such as Dorada, said Mr Wylie, is that the rough skins of the grenadier fish which are habitually caught at the same time strip a lot of scales off the toothfish. "They also need time to decompress on their way to the surface, the ideal situation being pauses as they are brought up to sea level." Holding tanks are being made to enable CFL longliners to provide the hatchery with line and pot-caught fish which should prove to be more successful. Mr Wylie said the company needs to build a permanent facility to enable it to develop the necessary knowledge to grow the fish commercially. "Toothfish is an extremely high value fish, and if successful, toothfish farming could provide another significant source of income and employment for the Islands." Photo: One of the first toothfish caught for the hatchery.

Hospital's precautionary plan for ?bird flu'

WITH heightened concerns about avian influenza and the risk of a human pandemic, as a precaution, the hospital is looking into purchasing a stock of antiviral drugs. There are many types of bird flu, some of which are mild and others are highly contagious and cause high death rates amongst birds. People are rarely affected by bird flu and, historically, human infection with avian flu viruses has usually caused mild symptoms. However, a severe form of bird flu ? called H5N1 ? has affected poultry flocks and other birds in several Asian countries since 2003. As of October 20, 2005, a total of 117 people have caught the infection as a result of close and direct contact with infected birds. Sixty of these have subsequently died. The Director of Health, Nikki Osborne, told Penguin Newsthe hospital is taking the threat of a flu pandemic seriously. "There is no firm evidence that H5N1 can pass easily from person to person. However, there is concern that the virus might develop this ability, or that it might mix with human flu viruses to create a new virus. "It is this ability of avian flu, to change and mix, that has given rise to the fear of a new human flu pandemic, that is an outbreak of flu affecting many countries round the world at the same time. "It should be noted that there were three pandemics in the last century, and experts have been predicting the next one for the last 20 years or more. The current threat should be viewed in thiscontext, and that of the dire predictions about SAARs and other infectious diseases around the world. However, like all other governments, we have to take the threat of a flu pandemic seriously and plan for that eventuality. "From the hospital point of view, there are two main measures that we can take, vaccination and anti-viral drugs." Vaccination is the best defence against any type of flu, however, a vaccine cannot be produced until the virus strain is known. Ms Osborne commented, "We will obtain our vaccines from our usual UK sources. It is likely to take four to six months before quantities of vaccine will become available and even longer before sufficient quantities are available for the whole population. Continued on page 3

News in brief

Racecourse talks

THE Chief Executive is optimistic that the future of Stanley's racecourse will be secured. The Falkland Islands Company (FIC) owns most of the course and leases it to the Stanley Sports Association (SSA). The remaining part of the course is owned by the government and is leased to the SSA. The leases are due to expire in February 2006. Yesterday the Chief Executive, Mr Chris Simpkins confirmed he has had some "initial discussions" with Roger Spink, Director of FIC Ltd, and is "optimistic" that "we will identify a solution that will be satisfactory to all interests."

Nordnorge kicks off season

THE Falklands welcomes the first cruise ship of the season this weekend. Nordnorge will carry approximately 350 passengers to West Point and New Island on Saturday and Stanley on Sunday. There will be a football match between a Stanley select team and a team from Nordnorge on Sunday at 3pm.

Jail after night of assaults

A STANLEY man who assaulted four women - including a police officer - in one evening has been jailed. Barry O'Dean pleaded guilty to five separate charges relating to a series of incidents which occurred on October 7. He will serve approximately seven and a half months in prison. Full story on page 5.

Candidate list still growing

TWO more candidates have indicated they will be standing for election next month. Janet Robertson and Kevin Ormond will both stand for the Stanley constituency.

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