If Congress were to go ahead with its budget cuts, the Aquatic Animal Drug Approval Partnership (AADAP), which is part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), looks set to lose around $400,000 (approximately 22 per cent cut) worth of funding, half of its full time staff and another $237,000 in the 2015 financial year.
Most drug companies currently find the opportunity in the US market too small to justify the costs of drug registration. Simply put, AADAP acts as a more viable path to registration for these companies.
As the AADAP programme is the only federal programme in the US fully dedicated to fish drug approval research, any reduction in funding would therefore have a significant, negative impact on the ability of the USFWS and other state and federal natural resource agencies to accomplish mandated fish production and field management objectives. Although AADAP’s focus is drug approvals for use in the public sector, the private aquaculture industry also relies on AADAP for access to safe and effective fish drugs.
Furthermore, US approvals often provide a very strong basis for similar approvals in other countries, so the net negative effects could likely be felt worldwide.
“Aquaculture drugs are an essential part of judicious fish health management. The proposed cuts will bring fish drug registration to a standstill and create the wrong incentives when it comes to managing fish health,” said Jesse Trushenski, incoming President of the American Fisheries Society's Fish Culture Section and co-author of the Society’s Policy Statement on the need for approved fish sedatives, speaking to TheFishSite.
Without access to the appropriate tools, hatchery biologists and fish farmers will ultimately produce fewer fish, said Dr Trushenski.
In the longer term, a reduction in legally available drugs to treat fish may also lead to drug resistance in fish, which would have a devastating impact on the health of fish, the environment and the economy, as the US aquaculture industry is worth more than $1 billion annually and state and federal hatchery releases support commercial and recreational fisheries generating hundreds of billions of dollars in each year.
Use of unapproved drugs also complicates fish exports from the US and undermines consumer confidence in the aquaculture industry as a whole. The solution is ensuring that the aquaculture industry has access to safe and effective drugs when needed.
To show support for the AADAP programme and petition against the budget cuts you can contact or write letters to the Director of the USFWS and contact your local Congressional representatives to express concern.
For more information, contact Jesse Trushenski at firstname.lastname@example.org.