The Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) epidemic currently sweeping Japan has hit the industry hard, according to reports in Japan's Daily Yomiuri.
The disease, which has a very mortality rate, has swept the country with 22 prefectures reporting outbreaks since May 2003. The KHV problem has reached epidemic proportions in the past two months.
The All Japan Nishikigoi Promotion Association has cancelled Japan's largest Koi-grading show, which was due to take place in January. The move is likely to see the market price of Japanese Koi drop.
Carp breeders report that people are becoming reluctant to purchase Japanese fish in the wake of the disease. The tests available for diagnosing KHV are not accurate enough to identify fish that are not carrying the virus, and there are several competing test protocols in use.
Breeders in Niigata, the world's main supplier of Koi, have suggested exposing cheaper common carp to their Koi, and then killing the common carp to see whether they have become infected with the virus, in order to prove the health of the fish they are selling.
Practical Fishkeeping has spoken to several Koi importers who are now reluctant to import any fish from Japan this year and believes that availability may be affected as a result.