The following principles were used to develop the guidelines and recommendations:
Responsible movement of living aquatic animals within and across national boundaries is necessary and can lead to considerable economic, social, and development benefits.
Transboundary movement of living aquatic animals poses varying risks of introducing exotic pathogens and/or increasing the distribution of enzootic (endemic) pathogens.
The Expert Consultation is aimed at providing scientifically-based recommendations for surveillance and zoning assisting the development of effective national or regional disease management programmes for both cultured and wild stocks of aquatic animals that are susceptible to, or vectors of, viable infectious agents of concern.
The zero-risk approach (i.e. no movement of live product between or within countries) is considered impractical. However, it is recognized that each country has the sovereign right to set its own appropriate level of protection (ALOP).
Recommended surveillance programmes and zoning systems should be practical, cost-effective and capable of implementation using existing disease detection techniques, including provisions to cover variations in resource availability and technical capacity of individual countries. Where no disease detection capability exists (beyond recognition of dead animals), recommendations should include capacity building options.
Surveillance and zoning are integral components of effective import risk analysis (IRA) for transboundary trade in aquatic animals. Other components of IRA are hazard identification, justification for protection, and identification and implementation of suitable control measures (such as surveillance and zoning). The objective is to provide countries with an ALOP that minimizes unnecessary disruption to trade.
Pathogens/diseases that merit consideration as candidates for surveillance and zoning are primarily: infectious in aetiology; listed diseases of international trade significance (as defined by the OIE Aquatic Code); infectious diseases of regional, national or local significance; and newly emerging infectious diseases.