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Alien aquatic species in Myanmar

U Hla Win

 Following increasingly good experiences with aquaculture, the Department of Fisheries has imported regionally high-demand species with the intention of increasing the income of fish farmers by producing high-price fish for local and regional markets


Myanmar, contains 676 577 square kilometres in area with a population of over 50million in 2000–2001 and has a varied climatic conditions. The northern part of the temperate region is the eastern part of Himalaya range and the mountain peaks are covered with snow the whole year round. In contrast, the southern part of Myanmar is close to the equator (10° N). The whole country is divided longitudinally by four big rivers which have a vast delta region before opening into the sea.

One fifth of the country is inundated during the monsoon and post monsoon period. These are the areas where Myanmar people get fish and aquatic organisms, a major source of low cost animal protein. It is reported that the per caput consumption of fish in Myanmar is 26 kg (2003), however this figure probably does not include fish caught and consumed locally and therefore may well be much higher.

Despite rich natural fisheries resources, the Myanmar Department of Fisheries established some pioneer forms of aquaculture in 1953. This started with tilapia and common carp, followed by gouramy in following years up to 1955. (Appendix A). The objectives of the Department of Fisheries were to introduce aquaculture technology and to initiate aquaculture industry which would take the vital portion of the fish production to feed people not only in the country but also in the region and international in future. The reasons of choosing these species were:

Perception of alien species

Initially, Myanmar people were very reluctant to put these new species in the daily fish menu. This was occasionally due to similarities with local species, e.g. the common carp was named “Indonesian Nga Phane” when they were introduced due to its similarity to the native species “Inlay Nga Phane” (Cyprinus carpio inthar). Unfortunately, it is locally believed that these fish eat the dead bodies of human being that were traditionally buried in the water of the huge Inlay Lake and as a result, the alien common carp were rejected by Myanmar people. To overcome this first problem Department of Fisheries changed the name of the fish to “Shwewa Nga Ginn” which means “Golden Carp” after the name of very famous film actress which bore the same meaning as “Glorious yellowish gold” and like the actress, the exotic common carp started getting popular in the market and consequently in fish farms.

In the case of tilapia, Trichogaster and gouramy, the complaint of consumers was due to the small size and their colour. The Department of Fisheries had taken some time to convince the consumers that they had the same taste as local walking cat fish, Clarias batrachus and climbing perch Anabas testudineus.

Since the law enforcement is so strong and the self awareness is well developed, the illegal importation of exotic species is not practiced

Technical problems

At the same time of poor consumer perceptions, technical complaints were made by farmers regarding their ponds.

Common carp were causing embankment erosion as part of their feeding habits feeding habit of common carp.

The precocious maturation and frequent spawning habits of tilapia was leading to over population of small size groups in the ponds.

These two problems were solved by Department of Fisheries through demonstration, showing that the common carps are to be cultured in earthen pond with clay soil deep enough to keep the water level at least one and half meter deep such that it does not reach embankment base. It was also advised to keep a pave way between embankment base and the edge of the pond about one and half meter apart.

At present due to its lower market price in market than India major carp (especially Rohu) and based on farmers own experiences, the common carp is raised only in polyculture ponds and at a lesser ratio than more preferred major carp species. In this system its role is as a detritus feeder to clean the pond bottom waste. In the case of tilapia the farmers were asked to harvest the marketable size very frequently or to stock the pond with monosex fingerlings.

The impacts of common carp stocked into reservoirs and tilapia in big tanks where there are large numbers of fish seed stocked annually are unknown. and the occurrence of adverse impacts of these fishes to the local biodiversity of aquatic habitats and ecosystem has not been observed yet.

In 1967 three new species of Chinese species carp were introduced to Myanmar water with different objectives, i.e. to eradicate the aquatic weeds and to inhibit the plankton bloom in the fish ponds. The principle role of these species is merely to maintain their pond environment. The market value of fish is rather low due to inferior taste to the consumers and therefore they are not subject to intensive propagation. So far, no negative impact has been attributed to these Chinese carp species.

Current status

Following increasingly good experience of the potential forwith aquaculture, the Department of Fisheries has imported regionally high-demand species with the intention of increasing the income of fish farmers by producing high-price fish to local and regional markets. Among these newly introduced alien species, only African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) imported by the private sector has shown a threat to the local fish. In this case it has caused problems with predation of smaller fish and the nibbling of the fins and body parts of bigger fish. As a result of this, the culture of African catfish is banned in Myanmar. Catfish farmers can get hybrid catfish (Clarias gariepinus x C. macrocephalus and C. gariepinus x C. batrachus) only from Department of Fisheries hatcheries.

In 2002 Department of Fisheries gave permission to import wWhite Sshrimp (L. vannamei) postlarvae for culture in isolated areas under thorough strict direction from Department of Fisheries as a pilot process. Though occurrence of Taura Syndrome Virus (TSV) has not been observed and high production of four tonnes/ha has been obtained, as a preventive measure the import of Vannamei white shrimp is still currently suspended. The case will be considered again when better information and experiences can be obtained from other countries that have imported L. vannamei.

Legal and policy aspects

Myanmar, though endowed with ample natural resources, has to venture to find new trends opportunities in fish trade including and aquaculture. Accordingly, exotic fish species are introduced into Myanmar aimed at diversifying aquaculture in order to feed people with new fish species, to increase income of fish farmers and to utilize fully utilize the varied favourable topographic and climatic conditions.

According to Myanmar's four fisheries laws, fish are defined as:

“All aquatic organisms living the whole or a part of their life cycle in the water, and their eggs, larval fry and seeds”.

This expression also includes aquatic plants, their seedlings and seeds. As a regulatory measure, it is a compulsory to get permission from Department of Fisheries under the Law Related to Aquaculture for any aquacultural activity. In section 35 of this law, it is stated that prior approval shall be obtained from the Department of Fisheries regarding import and export of live fishes into and out of the country. Severe penalties are also mentioned; to be given out to those who are convicted under this section.

To enforce this section the Department of Fisheries is the only agency and the Director-General and Deputy Director-General of the Department the two persons conferred by the State as sole competent authorities. The Department of Fisheries explains the basic concepts of the section in terms of conservation and preventive measures, to potential importers of live fishes in order to facilitate their application. In this way the importer has to be in compliance with this section and the regulations mandated by the Department. The Department of Fisheries is taking uttermost care to safeguard imports of alien fish to Myanmar.

To induce responsibility with overriding objectives of conservation and management among stakeholder and small holder in fisheries sector the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries is translated into local language and distributed to the fisheries communities through department and Myanmar Fisheries Federations (NGO).

Since the law enforcement is so strong and the self awareness is well developed, the illegal importation of exotic species is not practiced. Reports from farms show that there is no adverse impact of alien species on local wild and cultured aquatic communities their habitats and eco-system. The African catfish is the only case of an alien fish species which Department of Fisheries has taken action in time. The unsuccessful stories of some alien species reveal that they are rejected not because of their ill effects on the environment, but due to poor consumer appreciation because of their colour, taste and flavour.

Stocking of open waters

With the intension of rehabilitation of natural resources and creation of the new fisheries, the Department of Fisheries has practiced culture - based capture fisheries through stocking of hatchery bred fish seed into natural and man-made water bodies. Local indigenous species such as Labeo rohita, Cirrhina mrigala, Catla catla are stocked into open waters, either to enhance existing fishery production or to revitalize depleted fisheries. Alien species such as catfish common carp and tilapia are stocked to create new fisheries and to increase the value and profitability of a fishery. To control the over-growth aquatic vegetation and plankton the grass carp and silver carp are commonly stocked in certain areas and farm ponds.

Stocking for recreational fishing has not been undertaken yet.

To control the over-growth aquatic vegetation and plankton the grass carp and silver carp are commonly stocked in certain areas and farm ponds.

Need for regional and international action

It is obvious that well documented information and examples of the risks related to these activities is limited and that collaboration and deliberation among the countries through regional fisheries bodies is very seldom. A number of international code and protocols are provided and developed by various institutions from different areas, but these mostly focusing on disease risks associated with introduction and transfer of live aquatic animals.

Internationally more effort and attention has focused on farming practices, feeds, economics, disease, water management and very recently genetically improvement of cultured species.

Transboundary movement and aquatic animal health

Though alien species have been introduced into Myanmar for aquaculture since 1953, the first occurrence of disease due to transboundary movement was only observed in 1984. The disease was Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) and it appeared that it spread from border areas adjoining Thailand (where it had already appeared) possibly through the trading of live or dead fish that were infected, across the long border. The species most severely affected species were snake head, eel, catfish and barbs. EUS appeared to become less of a problem with time, affecting 35 townships in 1984–85 and reducing to 11 townships in 1989–90. More recent occurrences of EUS are unknown in subsequent years.

The second major transboundary disease occurred in tiger shrimp, Penaeus monodon and was due to White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV). This virus is still causing serious problems in the shrimp farming industries. The DOF has set up Disease Diagnostic Laboratories with technical assistance from regional FAO office under TCP/MYA/ 2523 project. Currently the laboratory is equipped with PCR and the technical assistance and training are provided by FAO, SEAFDEC, NACA and AAHRI.

The unsuccessful stories of some alien species reveal that they are rejected not because of their ill effects on the environment, but due to poor consumer appreciation because of their colour, taste and flavour

Present status of national animal health strategy development and implementation

Participation in regional activities

Since 1998 up to very recently Myanmar has implemented FAO Regional Technical Cooperation Programme TCP/RAS/671 and 9605 “Assistance for the Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Animals” with close collaboration with Network of Aquaculture in Asia-Pacific.

Myanmar took part in development of Asian Regional Technical Guidelines for the Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Animals and Beijing Consensus and Implementation Strategy. Myanmar also committed to develop National Strategies on Aquatic Animal Health Management. Mean while Myanmar took part in regional workshop in Bangkok in 1998 and 200 in Beijing and Capacity and Awareness building on Import Risk Analysis (IRA) for Aquatic Animal held in Bangkok in 2002.

To keep up with the fast developing aquaculture sector in Myanmar, a national workshop on “Developing the National Strategy Framework on Aquatic Animal Health Management” was held in Yangon from 10–11 April 2002 attended by Deputy Minister for Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and Chaired by Director General of Department of Fisheries. The workshop was attended by over one hundred persons representing Department of Fisheries, various Universities, Myanmar Fisheries Federation, Myanmar Academy of Livestock and Fisheries, OIE and FAO. Dr M. B. Reantaso (Aquatic Animal Health Specialist -NACA) and Dr S. Chinabut (Director, Aquatic Animal Health Research Institute) were external resources expert Deliberation and preliminary assessment on the formulation of Myanmar's National Strategy Framework on Aquatic Animal Health Management were made through working group. The workshop recommended the formation of “Committee on Aquatic Animal Health Management (CAAH) by DOF, including related representatives from as many sectors as possible. CAAH will issues relating to forming and implementing of the “National Strategy”. At present CAAH has already been established and development of the National Strategy framework is ongoing process base on the available resources Aquaculture Law (1998) and other international agreement. The National Strategy will be integrated into long term and short term national aquaculture development plan in the future.

As a legal framework the existing Aquaculture Law designates Director General of the DOF as the competent authority to issue relevant/ directives and notifications. Since there is no specified provision on alien species included in the law it is deemed that the law should be revised.

Under the strict regulations and efficient legislative measures coupled with expertise from various sector and collaborated activities only minor problem and constraints are expected which can be solved through responsibility and self awareness.

Present status of aquatic animal disease reporting

To enhance the technical administration processes the DOF has deployed offices in strategic areas where the fishery is intensive. The staff has to monitor the fishery activities and has to report back to head office. Normally the status and information on fisheries including fish health status in their jurisdiction are reported back to relevant section including fish health unit. DOF have good quality and eligible staff working on Health Management and data gathering activities but they are insufficient to cover the whole sector.

Since there is a significant increase in the number of species and in larger volume of production with little or no awareness of downstream consequences, Myanmar feels that harmonized principles, guidelines and sound technology are urgently needed and that the effective use of International Mechanism for the Control and Responsible use of Alien Species in Aquatic Ecosystem is very crucial for sustainable use of aquatic resources.


Introduction of alien aquatic species should be only made prior to consideration for safeguarding natural resources and ecosystems.

If some species, that may not cause negative impact to conservation of fishery resources and ecosystem, are decided to be introduced, studies on prior quarantine and reliable reporting should be conducted.

The culture of alien aquatic species should be facilitated through good aquaculture practice (GAP) and / or environment friendly aquaculture practices.

An introduced alien species should be genetically upgraded through high health management and screening method so as to sustain specific pathogen free (SPF) parent stock.

Introduction of Penaeus vannamei to Asia and the Pacific region is still questionable. Myanmar is deliberating if it should be allowed to import. In this regard, the workshop is requested to set up the solution.

Collaboration among regional and global scientists should be implemented to study cause and effect on conservation of ecosystem prior to introduction of alien aquatic species.

Appendix A

Alien Species in Myanmar according to FAO Database on Introductions of Aquatic Species

GenusSpeciesOriginYear of first introductionReason for introductionWho was responsibleEcological effectSocio-economic effect

Aquatic alien species in Thailand (Part1): Biodiversity

Chavalit Vidthayanon

 Thai people consume 28.8 kg of fish per capita, of which 41.6% is exotic species

Thailand has experienced exotic aquatic animal species since the 18th Century, when goldfish were introduced to high society households for ornamental purposes. For food fish aquaculture, Chinese common carp Cyprinus carpio was introduced in the early 20thCentury to the Bangkok area and raised by Chinese farmers; Chinese major carps were subsequently introduced. Since this time, many species of “exotic” finfishes and shellfishes have been introduced for various purposes, including for food, as ornamentals, or for mosquito control. Introduced exotic species, imported for any purpose, have mainly contributed economic or social benefit and their status can be summarized as follows:

Escapee: 11 species accidentally spread in habitats but not established.

Flourishing: 17 species have established populations in nature. Aquatic species imported mainly for the aquarium or pet trade include:

In total, 17 species have flourished in natural waters, including 11 that appear not to have become invasive (or their status is unknown) and six invasive species (see Table 1).

The means of introduction to natural waters include:

The main reason for introducing exotic species are for social and economic benefit, especially for aquaculture. Positive or beneficial aspects of exotic species include:

Food security. Exotic species contribute more than 63% of freshwater fish production in Thailand or 160000–170000 mt annually, mainly from aquaculture. This statistic does not include yields from communal fishponds and natural waters. In 2001, fisheries statistics show that Thai people consume 28.8 kg of fish per capita, of which 41.6% is exotic species. Nile tilapia and its strains make the highest contribution, 8.52 kg per capita, following by hybrid walking catfish and common carp. Exotic fish aquaculture also plays an important role in the Thai rural economy, including employment, fish seed selling, polyculture with livestock and processing of fish product.

Ornamental. Up to 1000 exotic species have been imported for the Thai aquarium trade. Many species have been bred and improved into famous breeds for the global market, such as discuss, oscar, guppy and others.

Public health. Two ornamental species were introduced for mosquito control in urban and suburban areas of Thailand; the guppy Poecilia reticulata and mosquitofish Gambusia affinis that has high tolerance to polluted water. Sailfins, P. velifera and P. sphenops, were also utilized for algae control in brackish water shrimp ponds.

Some exotic species have become invasive alien species (IAS) to Thailand, with the following negative impacts:

Predatory. Several carnivorous fishes and amphibian can cause population decline in indigenous species, through predation, including egg predation. African and hybrid catfishes are claimed to have caused predation of small fishes in some wetlands. Tilapia in some man-made wetlands have been reported through local knowledge as egg predators of larger indigenous cyprinids i.e. Osteochilus melanopleura and Morulius chrysophekadion. Larger escapees i.e. Arapaima have potential to harm small fishes and frogs as well as bullfrogs can predate smaller native amphibians.

Competitor. Most alien species have better adaptive living, an higher tolerance to habitat change and may compete with native species in foraging, niche and spawning grounds. Hybrid walking catfish, several million of which are released annually for merit making, and escape from ponds, has been blamed for outcompeting the native species Clarias batrachus.

Disease, parasite transmission. Chinese major carps were suspected as carriers of anchor worm and cotton disease in Thailand; it was banned for fry importing by Fisheries Act in 1970. Many diseases and parasites have been introduced in aquarium and pet species, including protozoa and helminthes, among others. The bullfrog was found to carry virus to native frog farms and sand goby culture.

Habitat disturbance. Apple snails cause changes in wetland plant communities by foraging of soft and submerged species, leading to takeover by hard leaf species vegetation. Such vegetation change can lead to changes in fish diversity. Snails are also serious agricultural pests in paddy fields.

Agriculture and aquaculture pest. Apart from apple snails, the Mozambique tilapia has become a pest in brackish water shrimp farms throughout the Southeast Asia.

Genetic pollution or erosion. Establishment of alien taxa that are closely related to native taxa may cause genetic contamination through hybridization. Genetic examination of native walking catfish C. macrocephalus has found some contamination by the African species C. gariepinus in central Thailand.

Economic losses. Pests may cause a reduction of farming product and incur costs for eradication. There may also be secondary impacts to the ecosystem from control and eradication activities. The obvious example is apple snail eradication, where chemical agents pose hazards to all non-target species in natural waters, including humans.

Legislation relevant to alien introduction

There are three relevant legal instruments that control aquatic alien introductions in Thailand.

The Fisheries Act that prohibits imports of piranhas and sucker catfish, and regulates all imports of aquatic animals.

The National Park Act and Wildlife Conservation Act that prohibits carrying and release of any animal into National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuary areas.

The import of all living aquatic species is also controlled by the Ministry of Commerce.

Table 1. List of exotic species in Thai aquaculture

Japanese eelAnguilla japonicaJapan, China1973Japan, ChinaaquaculturenoNo
Chinese crucial carpCarassius auratusChina1692–1697ChinaornamentyesNo
Crucial carpCarassius carassiusJapan1980Europeaquaculture trialnoNo
CatlacatlaBangladesh1979Bangladeshaquaculture trialnoNo
MrigalCirrhinus cirrhosusBangladesh1980Bangladeshaquacultureprobably noUnknown
African walking catfishClarias gariepinusLao PDRCa. 1987AfricaaquacultureyesInvasive
Grass carpCtenopharyngodon idellaChina, Hong Kong1932Chinaaquacultureprobably yesUnknown
Common carpCyprinus carpioChina, Japan, Israel and Germany1913+ChinaaquacultureyesUnknown
MosquitosfishGambusia affinisUnknownunknownCentral Americamosquito controlyesUnknown
Silver carpHypophthalmichthys molitrixChina1919ChinaaquaculturenoUnknown
Bighead carpAristichthys nobilisChina1932Chinaaquacultureprobably yesUnknown
Channel catfishIctalurus punctatusUSA1989USAaquaculturenoUnknown
Sucker catfishHypostomus spp.UnknownUnknownAmazoniaaquariumyesInvasive
Sucker catfishPterygoplichthys sp.UnknownUnknownAmazoniaaquariumyesInvasive
RohuLabeo rohitaIndia1968IndiaaquaculturepossiblyUnknown
Rainbow troutOncorhynchus mykissCanada1973Canadaaquaculture trialnoUnknown
TroutOncorhynchus rhodurusJapan1981Japanaquaculture trialnoUnknown
TilapiaOreochromis aureusIsrael1970AfricaaquacultureyesUnknown
Mossambique tilapiaOreochromis mossambicusMalaysia1949AfricaaquacultureyesInvasive
Nile tilapiaOreochromis niloticusJapan1965AfricaaquacultureyesInobvious invasive
Grey mulletMugil cephalusTaiwan1998Taiwanaquaculture trialnoNo
Amazon apple snailPomacea canaliculataTaiwan1990AmazoniaaquacultureyesInvasive
Giant apple snailPomacea gigasTaiwanUnknownAmazoniaaquacultureyesInvasive
American crayfishProcambarus clarkiiUSAca 1987USAaquariumnoUnknown
YabbyCherax quadricarinatusAustralia1995AustraliaaquariumnoUnknown
BullfrogRana catesbienaUSA1977USAaquaculturepossiblyInobvious invasive
Redbrested tilapiaTilapia randalliBelgium1955AfricaaquacultureyesUnknown
BrineshrimpsArtemia spp.USA, China1978USA, ChinaaquaculturenoBeneficial
Whiteleg shrimpPenaeus vannamaiTaiwan, Province of China2000USAaquaculturepossiblyUnknown
Chinese abaloneHaliotis diverticolorTaiwan, Province of China1980Taiwanaquaculture trialnoNo
SailfinPoecilia veliferaTaiwan, Province of China1960Central Americaalgae contralyesUnknown
Chinese softshellPelodiscus sinensisTaiwan, Province of China1985ChinaaquaculturepossiblyInobvious invasive
CaimanCaiman crocodilusAustralia1990Amazoniapet, hidenoUnknown
Red cheek terrapinPseudemys scriptaJapan1972USApetpossiblyInobvious invasive

Aquatic alien species in Thailand (Part2): aquatic animal diseases

Somkiat Kanchanakhan

 The awareness of aquatic animal diseases spread through international trade has been increasing since the first edition of the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Code in 1995

Trans-boundary issues concerning aquatic animal pathogens

The international trade in aquatic animals has resulted in the spread of aquatic animal diseases to many countries (Hastein, 2000). Thailand has experience with such problems, starting with introduction of Chinese carps (Hypopthalmichys molitrix, Ctenopharyngodon idellus, Aristichthys nobilis) for food fish culture that introduced Lerneae parasites to the aquatic ecosystem some years ago. Importation of ornamental fishes has also introduced many new pathogens such as Hexamita, Tetrahymena and iridoviruses. Epizootic ulcerative syndrome caused great losses during the 1980s and more recently, introduction of shrimp viruses has led to severe economic damage in coastal aquaculture.

Trans-boundary pathogens and management strategies

The movement of aquatic animals is generally recognized as a high risk activity for transferring diseases and pathogens from one area to another. The awareness of aquatic animal diseases spread through international trade has been increasing since the first edition of the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Code in 1995. Methods to control diseases through international trade and a development of national strategies for for addressing disease problems have been discussed in great detail among representative from 21 Asian governments during a three years (1998–2000) technical assistance program of FAO and NACA. Results of this program were a guideline called “Asia Regional Technical Guidelines on Health Management for the Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Animals” and a Manual of Procedures for the Implementation of the guidelines. All 21 Asian countries had accepted the guideline and agreed to implement the guidelines as part of a regional strategy to control spread of serious pathogens.

Thailand has a law to control terrestrial animal diseases called the Animal Epidemic Act B.E. 2499 (1956), which is used by the Department of Livestock Development (DLD). However this Act originally did not cover aquatic animals and their diseases

As part of this regional program, each country has prepared national aquatic animal health strategies. In Thailand, this plan has been discussed during a seminar and workshop among staff from the Department of Fisheries (DoF), Department of Livestock Development, University, Private Sectors and Farmers in Bangkok in May 2001. Nine strategic plans of the “National Strategy for Control of Aquatic Animal Diseases” have been developed from this seminar and were accepted by the DoF. The plan titles are listed as follows:

  1. Law and legislation
  2. Import/export regulation
  3. Disease surveillance, monitoring and control systems
  4. Aquatic Animal Diseases; research & development
  5. Diagnosis units; capability building
  6. Technology/knowledge transfer
  7. Public awareness
  8. Contingency plan to control disease outbreak
  9. Funding support

In Thailand, aquaculture and fisheries are under the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries (DoF). The existing Fisheries Act B.E 2490 (1947) 3rd revision in B.E. 2528 (1985), Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act B.E. 2535 (1992) and Control of Importation and Exportation of Goods Act B.E. 2522 (1979) were not developed for control of aquatic animal diseases. These three Acts have small sections about movement regulations of the imported and exported aquatic animals. However Thailand has a law to control terrestrial animal diseases called the Animal Epidemic Act B.E. 2499 (1956), which is used by the Department of Livestock Development (DLD). However this Act originally did not cover aquatic animals and their diseases.

The strategic plan for law and legislation development for controlling aquatic animal diseases has been aiming to use the existing Animal Epidemic Act. There was an agreement at the Lawyer Consultation of the Parliament in September 2002 that the diseases of aquatic animals will be controlled by using the Animal Epidemic Act. Aquatic animals are in control by this Act under Ministerial Regulation dated on June 2, 2003. A joint working group between DoF and DLD has been appointed and this group is working on the details of how to apply the law to control aquatic animals and their diseases.

A list of aquatic animal diseases proposed to be controlled under this Act should be processed in early 2004 before passed as a Ministerial Regulation are as follows:

  1. Epizootic haematopoietic necrosis
  2. Infectious haematopoietic necrosis
  3. Oncorhynchus masou virus disease
  4. Spring viraemia of carp
  5. Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia
  6. Epizootic ulcerative syndrome
  7. Viral encephalopathy and retinopathy
  8. Red sea bream iridoviral disease
  9. Bacterial kidney disease
  10. Bonamiosis
  11. MSX disease
  12. Marteiliosis
  13. Mikrocytosis
  14. Perkinsosis
  15. Taura Syndrome
  16. White spot disease
  17. Yellowhead disease
  18. Infectious hypodermal and haematopoietic necrosis virus
  19. Tetrahedral baculovirosis
  20. Crayfish plague
  21. Monodon baculovirus
  22. Hepatopancreatic parvovirus
  23. Iridovirus disease
  24. Koi herpesvirus
  25. Poxvirus

National bodies responsible for managing the use of alien species

Thailand has two National Bodies, the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives and Minister of National resources and Environment, which are responsible for managing the use of alien species. Two Acts have been drafted to protect diversity of indigenous animals, to protect against the establishment of alien species in the ecosystem and to protect the ownership of the animal type or strain. Summaries of the two drafted Acts are as follows:

Animal Diversity Protection Act

Board of Animal Diversity Protection

Chairperson: Permanent Secretariat of theMinistry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

Committee:   nine Director Generals of related Departments, 12 committees from the scientific, private sector, farming and NGO sector who are nominated by the Minister.


  1. Drafts Royal decrees and Ministerial Notices
  2. Consideration and justification of all major conflicts between private sector and official authorization/competent authority
  3. Gives suggestions to the Minister related to implementation issues
  4. Gives rules for research on Animal Genetics
  5. Gives rules for management of an Animal Diversity Protection Fund
  6. Gives rules for promotion of Scientists who have developed new strains of cultured animals
  7. Designates an Institution to inspect and evaluate any impacts on bio-security and environment
  8. Board work will cover other assignments given by the Minister and Government

Animal Farming Extension and Conservation Act*

* There are no English names of theses two drafted Acts at time of writing. The English names of the drafted Acts appeared here are translated from the Thai by the author.

Board of Animal Farming Extension and Conservation

Chairperson: Permanent Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives

Committee:   three Director Generals; Department of Fisheries, Department of Royal Forestry and Department of Livestock Development 5–9 knowledgeable persons


  1. Drafts Royal Decrees and Ministerial Notices
  2. Give suggestions to the Minister related to the implementation Issues
  3. Give rules for researches on animal farming extension and animal conservation based on Code of Conduct and Animal Welfare
  4. Give rules for management of Animal Farming Extension and Conservation Fund
  5. Give a name list of the animals to be controlled under this Act
  6. Designate an Institution to access any impacts on bio-security and environment
  7. Board work will cover other assignments given by the Minister and Government


Håstein, T. 2000. Principals of prevention and control of aquatic animal diseases. 68th General Session of the International Committee May 22–26, 2000, Paris. Office International Des Epizooties, Paris. 31pp.

Viet Nam national report on alien species

Le Thanh Luu
and Nguyen VanThanh

Presently, alien species are dominant in freshwater aquaculture contributing to more than 50% of the total freshwater aquaculture product in Viet Nam

A list of alien species and genotypes currently in use in the country.

A review of the information currently available in DIAS

Compared with the information available in the Database of Introduction of Alien Species (DIAS) of FAO, the number of alien aquatic species introduced to Viet Nam is increasing. According to our records, there are five species that are recent introductions to Viet Nam for research and aquaculture purposes (see table). They are: Colossoma brachypomum; tilapia O. aureus; red drum Sciaenops ocellatus; white shrimp P. vannamei and Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. Some species are imported by the private sector through commercial channels based on an official application (in the case of tilapia O. aureus and P. vannamei), but some are initially imported by the farmers living along the boarder with China (in case of Colossoma brachypomum), and latterly by research institutes for study.

Known impacts of introductions, management strategies, current plans to introduce new alien species

Positive impacts

Aquaculture in Viet Nam is challenging with very limited numbers of domestic species being economically significant. To address this issue, for the last four decades, several alien species have been introduced in aquaculture practice. The introduced species have usually obtained good growth and high productivity. Presently, alien species are dominant in freshwater aquaculture contributing to more than 50% of the total freshwater aquaculture product in Viet Nam. For example, it is estimated that the volume of Chinese (three species) and Indian (two species) carps is sharing about 40–45% of freshwater production which is accounted approximately 600000 MT last year. Alien species are stocked in all water bodies/ponds such as paddy fields, reservoirs, ponds and cages. In brackishwater and marine aquaculture alien species have not had a significant role. To date, very few species have been introduced, mainly trials and experiments such as red drum, Pacific oyster through the private sector or government arrangements. Penaeus vannamei has also been imported.

Cases of large scale reproduction of alien species in the wild, and competition for food with local species have not been recorded so far. On the other hand, most of alien species are unable to reproduce in nature. The seed mainly is produced artificially in fish hatcheries for aquaculture purposes, or for restocking to improve the productivity of natural water bodies.

Negative impacts

To date, the research and assessment on negative impacts of introduced species have not been carried out. On the other hand, there was not any complaint from farmers about harmful or negative impacts from the introduced fish.

Transboundary issues concerning aquatic animal pathogens, impacts of transboundary pathogen issues and management strategies

Up to date, there has not been records of any serious disease among alien species or transmitted from alien species to other native species. Information on aquatic animal pathogens introduced through transboundary movement is limited, although the country has faced some serious aquatic animal disease outbreaks that may be due to introduced disease causing organisms (eg white spot syndrome virus of shrimp). There is a lack of systematic survey, however, an inadequate evidence to identify any issue concerning the aquatic animal pathogens and their affect on indigenous species.

Brief review of national legislation governing the use of alien species including health

The government of Viet Nam is not specifically strict on using alien species for culture purposes. Since 1989, the government has issued regulations on protection of aquatic resources in which it has permitted the Ministry of Fisheries to develop guidelines for use of alien species (for example, aquaculture, ornamental, gene pool exchange…). In 1990, the Ministry of Fisheries published guidelines that provide instructions on procedures for import of alien species for aquaculture or ornamental purposes. The guidelines strictly ban import of exotic species without quarantine and do not permit introduction of imported species to aquaculture practices without proper trial and risk analysis.

The initial step in this procedure is submission of an application to the Department of Aquatic Resource Protection, with a brief description about the biology of the species, distribution, aquaculture characteristics, possible risks including feed competition, diseases and pathogens. Any private sector or organization can submit an application for import of aquatic exotic species. The application is considered with advice of the concerned agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology and research institutions. Permission is given in the case when conditions are satisfied. Besides, the Ministry of Fisheries also requests research institutions to take responsibility on research and risk analysis of imported species before introduction to aquaculture practice. The testing period at least will take two-three years with all necessary research on feed, growth, diseases, aquaculture characteristics such as stocking density in different systems, survival rate in hatchery, incubation, rearing stage, and others. An annual scientific report should be prepared and presented to the committee for assessment. The committee will then make a decision to permit use of the species for aquaculture when the scientific assessment is positive.

Identification of the national agency responsible for managing the use of alien species and the name of the contact person in this agency

At this stage, the Department of Aquatic Resource Protection under the Ministry of Fisheries is responsible for managing the use of alien aquatic species. The department is responsible for looking at the justification for the application, identification and verification of biological characteristics and capacity of the applicant to testify the new species and evaluation of the potential use of introduced species to aquaculture practice. The department is responsible for issuing a permission to allow import of the alien species and verifying the quarantine process of the applicant.

Future plans and recommendations at the national level and also for regional cooperation

The Government of Viet Nam has not developed any specific plan on introduction of exotic species, however the movement and use of alien species is obvious and unavoidable as people living along the border informally exchange seed of new species with neighboring countries. As well as private sector farmers, companies are always interested in this matter. The government has collaborated with FAO to develop a “Health management strategy” for Viet Nam concerning transboundary movement of aquatic animals. The draft has been circulated for comments. Further, the government plans to give more focus on control mechanism to introduction of exotic species as well as create awareness on the possible impacts and pathogen risks from use of alien species.

The recommendations

Table 1. Information on Viet Nam from the FAO Database of Introductions of aquatic species

GenusSpeciesOriginYear of first introductionReason for introductionWho was responsibleEcological effectSocio-economic effect
AmeiurusnebulosusUSA probablyunknownunknownunknownunknownunknown
CatlacatlaLao PDR1984aquacultureinter.undecidedundecided
CirrhinusmrigalaLao PDR1984aquacultureinter. organization  
ClariasgariepinusCentral Africa1974aquacultureprivate sectorbeneficialbeneficial
CyprinuscarpioHungary1969, 1975aquaculturegovernmentbeneficialbeneficial
LabeorohitaLao PDR1982, 1984aquacultureinter. organizationbeneficialbeneficial
OreochromisniloticusTaiwan islands province of China, Philippines, Thailand1973, 1989, 1994aquacultureinter. organizationbeneficialbeneficial
OreochromismossambicusAfrica, Philippines1951, 1955aquacultureprivate  
CrassostreagigasChina, Australia2002research/aquaculturegovernmentunknownunknown
PenaeusvannameiAmerica, China2001aquacultureprivateunknownunknown

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