ECommercially Important Parasites of Fish

(1) Copepod (sea lice). The copepod (Sphyrion lumpi) is a small crustacean commonly found in Atlantic Ocean perch (Sebastes marinus). Like other crustaceans, it has a claw-like appendage which attaches to the flesh, causing areas of inflammation and abscesses. As a result, these parasites are usually visible to the naked eye. Trimming of the affected area is necessary to improve appearance; however, the flesh may be consumed without harm.

(2) Flatworm. The flatworm (Prosorphynchus, a trematode of the Bucephalus genus) is common to Pacific Ocean perch (Sebastodes alutus). This parasite passes from fish to shellfish and back to the fish to complete its life cycle. It encysts in the flesh, causing yellowish brown to black spots 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch in length. They are not normally visible to the naked eye. These flatworms are harmless to humans, but are removed for commercial purposes.

(3) Codworm. A worm which has caused major specification revision is the codworm (Porracaecum decipiens) which is common to the cod family but also may be found in haddock, pollock, and lake and ocean perch. It is also found in Pacific Ocean species. The codworm is the larval form of the roundworm of the seal, which must eat the fish for the worm to complete its life cycle. The infestation rate is very high for those fish caught inshore. If the fish are immediately processed and quick-frozen, the worm will normally be coiled to a diameter of less than 1/4 inch. In conventional frozen fish, worms tend to migrate towards the surface and can be detected by their light brown color in 1 1/2-inch lengths. Codworms are not harmful to humans, but they are removed because they affect the quality of fish flesh presented to consumers.

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