The Chinese government has blocked shrimp imports from three Ecuadorian processing plants belonging to Santa Priscila, Omarsa, and Winrep over fears of white spot contamination.

The companies have notified clients that the Ecuadorian government is alreadyconsulting with the Chinese government to resolve the situation.

Two sources have confirmed to IntraFish that the ban is still ongoing, and that it will be lifted once the governments clarify the situation.

White spot disease was first identified in China between 1991 and 1992, and is listed by the World’s Animal Health Organization (OIE) as present in Ecuador.

According to a message sent by the companies, the government in China is analyzing shrimp from these three plants for white spot amid concerns that the virus, present in China, could spread.

"We hope this situation gets sorted, but it is of course a big problem," an Ecuadorian source told IntraFish.

In addition, sources told IntraFish the Chinese government is due to publish a new list, including Indian shrimp plants, that will also be affected by an import ban later this year.

According to the message, the companies expect the situation to be resolved soon.

China is the main importer of Ecuadorian shrimp, having surpassed Vietnam in the past two years, with shipments to China from Ecuador in the first seven months of the year up 232 percent at 386 million pounds compared with the same period a year earlier.

“One-hundred percent of Chinese shrimp has the white spot virus,” a message issued to clients said. “This virus only affects shrimp, and it has absolutely no effect on human health. Ecuador continues to sell safe antibiotic-free shrimp best for human safety.”