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1. Scope and purpose

The epizootic spread and devastating impacts of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) in cultured shrimp in Asia clearly demonstrates the vulnerability of internationally dependent and connected aquaculture systems to wide-scale infectious disease emergencies (see de la Peña 2004). More recently, mass mortalities of koi and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in Indonesia and Japan have re-emphasized this vulnerability with significant impacts on local economies (see Sunarto et al., 2004; Sano et al., 2004; Sunarto and Cameron, 2005; Iida et al., 2005). These and other outbreaks of transboundary aquatic animal diseases (TAADs) have shown that national aquatic animal health systems in Asian countries are generally ill-prepared to deal rapidly and effectively with epizootics caused by highly pathogenic, easily transmissible pathogens. There is therefore, an urgent need for national governments to improve their ability to prevent the entry of exotic pathogens, and to detect, contain, and if possible, eradicate serious pathogens if they appear in vulnerable species within a national territory or across a shared waterbody.

The important role of contingency planning1 within a National Aquatic Animal Health Strategy is stressed in the Asia Regional Technical Guidelines on Health Management for the Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Animals and the Beijing Consensus and Implementation Strategy (FAO/NACA, 2000) and preliminary guidance to developing countries on the development of contingency plans is provided in the Manual of Procedures for the Implementation of the Asia Regional Technical Guidelines on Health Management for the Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Animals (FAO/NACA, 2001). This manual, Preparedness and response to aquatic animal health emergencies in Asia: guidelines, provides more detailed technical advice to assist Competent Authorities and other responsible individuals in planning for national aquatic animal disease emergencies through better planning and response and the preparation of national or bi-, multilateral contingency plans, as appropriate.

The approach outlined in these technical guidelines is based on Baldock (2005), and consistent with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)2 Aquatic Animal Health Code (OIE, 2005) and the FAO Good Emergency Management Practices (GEMP) programme (

Having the capability to deal with emergency diseases involves a great deal of planning and training, as well as an appropriate level of resources in the form of sufficient skilled personnel, equipment and financial and legislative mechanisms. Although such an infrastructure may take a long time to achieve for many countries, strong foundations can be laid within the framework of whatever resources presently exist. The need for capacity development and training for emergency preparedness and response to aquatic animal disease outbreaks in developing countries in Asia has been discussed by Mohan and Phillips (2005). These authors note that so far, the 21 participating countries in the Asia-Pacific Region have made little progress in the areas of contingency planning, import risk analysis and disease zoning -all key areas for rapid emergency response to disease outbreaks (see Table 1). Technical guidance for disease zoning has recently been provided by FAO (2004), while a manual on risk analysis to assist developing countries has been published (see Arthur et al.,2004). It is hoped that this manual will assist developing countries in Asia and elsewhere to improve preparedness arrangements for early detection of, and rapid response to, serious outbreaks of aquatic animal diseases.

Assessment of progress made by 21 participating countries in the Asia-Pacific Region towards implementation of theAsia Regional Technical Guidelines on Health Management for the Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Animals (FAO/NACA, 2000) (from Mohan and Phillips, 2005).

Elements in theTechnical GuidelinesProgress made
(Number of countries)
Disease diagnosis885
Health certification and quarantine measures1056
Disease zoning3315
Disease surveillance and reporting696
Contingency planning3612
Import risk analysis2514
National strategies and policy frameworks1146

1 Contingency planning can be defined as the preparation of documented work plans designed to ensure that all needed actions, requirements and resources are provided in order to eradicate or control outbreaks of serious diseases of aquatic animals (see OIE, 2004).In these guidelines, we have used the term “emergency preparedness and response”to encompass the entire range of activities that national governments must undertake in preparing for, and dealing effectively with, outbreaks of transboundary aquatic animal diseases. This, of course, includes contingency planning as a major component.

2 World Organisation for Animal Health was formally known as Office international des épizooties (OIE) -

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