The National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) believes early mortality syndrome (EMS), blamed for the recent drop in Thailand's shrimp supply, will be alleviated this year.

Assoc Prof Suvit Tia, Biotec's deputy executive director, said the agency's Shrimp Biotechnology Business Unit (SBBU) has been working intensively for years with its research network of state universities and the private sector to tackle EMS.

"We're nearly finished with our job of mitigating the EMS outbreak in shrimp," said Assoc Prof Suvit.

The SBBU has also collaborated with researchers in Vietnam and Indonesia to defeat the outbreak.

The Thai Shrimp Association expects this year's shrimp production will drop by 10% to 540,000 tonnes from last year's 600,000 tonnes, itself representing a decline of 6% from 2011, all due to EMS.

The disease has also run rampant in other major Asian shrimp exporting countries these past couple of years.

EMS adversely affects production,as all it takes is for one shrimp to become infected and then they all suddenly die.

The SBBU was established in 1999 to prevent disease and boost productivity in the shrimp industry in Thailand,the world's largest shrimp exporter.

The unit was successful in staving off the yellow-head virus, which hit shrimp exporting countries a decade ago.

Since its establishment, the SBBU has been working on diagnostic equipment and medicine for the shrimp industry, already developing 10 products under the Ezee Gene brand.

Its 640-square-metre facility in Rangsit's Science Park is the only such facility in Thailand and includes a laboratory and commercial shrimp ponds.

The SBBU offers services to both local and foreign shrimpers and has conducted a number of training courses on diagnosing shrimp disease.

"Shrimp is one of the world's major food resources but very sensitive to disease, particularly the new high-yield breeds," said Assoc Prof Suvit, adding that 80% of shrimp disease is caused by viruses and bacteria.