Oct. 20, 2010

Fish experts win award for Great Lakes fish disease science and outreach

Cornell researcher Paul Bowser and Dave MacNeill, New York Sea Grant (NYSG) fisheries specialist, are the recipients of the first Sea Grant Association's Research to Application Award for the successful and continued real-world application of a Sea Grant-funded research project over the past 20 years.

Bowser, professor of microbiology and immunology in Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, and MacNeill were recognized at Sea Grant Week in New Orleans last week for their work on viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) -- which has caused significant mortality events in a wide array of fish species as well as restrictions on the movement of live fish in the Great Lakes Basin -- and applying it in nonacademic settings.

In New York, the non-treatable viral fish pathogen poses a potential threat to the sport-fishing industry, which contributes $1.4 billion annually to the state's economy. While the virus has not been found in fish culture facilities, the adverse impact of VHSV in aquaculture could be significant.

VHSV research by Bowser and the members of the Aquatic Animal Health Program at Cornell have provided detailed information about the virus, its spread and its effects on Great Lakes fisheries, as well as sensitive detection methods. This information has been used by MacNeill and others to inform the fishing community and other important stakeholders of methods to limit virus spread and minimize its impact.

In 2009 and 2010, NYSG partnered with Lake Champlain and Pennsylvania Sea Grant programs to run, respectively, regional aquaculture workshops in Albany, N.Y., and Lamar, Pa.