Aquaculture for all

Current Global Issues On Aquatic Animal Health


Speaking at the 9th Asia Regional Advisory Group (AG) on Aquatic AnimalHealth, Dr Melba Reantaso (FAO) presented on-going projects of FAO related to aquatic animal healthwhich are of importance to the region. The report included issues on: Biosecurity; Certificationguidelines; One Health Program; Fisheries/Aquaculture and Veterinary Authorities; and,Certification of aquatic animal health professionals.

Biosecurity in aquaculture, as discussed during the Global Conference on Aquaculture 2010, is taking a broader perspective to include aquatic animal health, invasive species, genetic risks, public health and climate change impacts.

The following messages were conveyed by panel experts:

  • International and national efforts to promote biosecurity need to better reach the grassroots levels of the industry and the community stakeholders;

  • Biosecurity frameworks need to keep pace with the unprecedented level of aquaculture development in terms of species, systems and technology;

  • Standards on aquatic animal health for known pathogens, aquatic pests and food safety are already available, but greater commitment by governments is needed to implement these standards;

  • International standards need to be developed to address the high incidence of emerging diseases of aquatic animals and aquatic pests compared to the terrestrial scenario – there is a need to complement the pathogen/pest specific approach to biosecurity with standards that deter high risk practices.

On the different certification schemes which are creating confusion for many stakeholders, globally accepted guidelines are needed, which can serve as basis for a more harmonized and acceptable certification. The proposed FAO aquaculture certification guidelines are now awaiting approval. They consider a range of issues relevant to certification schemes in aquaculture: animal health and welfare; food safety; environmental integrity; and, socio-economic aspects.

Risk assessment is also important for timely assessment of threats from new or expanding species. These include standardization of science-based identification of all risk pathways and high risk organisms, and implementation of pre-border, border and post-border measures for disease prevention. FAO’s “One Health Program” which aims for improved animal and public health, enhanced food safety and security, and improved livelihood while protecting the ecosystem, is currently focused on animal diseases. The aims will be accomplished by enhancing disease intelligence and emergency response systems (national, regional and international levels), strong veterinary and public health services, and inter-sectoral collaborations for effective communication strategies.

At the meeting the advisory group recommended that Asia-Pacific member countries should work cooperatively and proactively to deal with international issues, e.g. EU regulations and OIE standards.

On the Animal Welfare aspects of OIE standards, the group recommended that member countries provide their comments on draft standards to the OIE through their respective OIE delegates. The AG suggested that NACA could facilitate cooperation, start with ecommunications, to gather responses from member countries on the implications of proposed international animal welfare standards.

March 2011
Filed as: Health