Melba B. Reantaso, FAO
Participants to the workshop
Dambulla, Sri Lanka, 1–4 November 2005
Melba B. Reantaso1
Like other farming systems, aquaculture is plagued with disease problems resulting from its intensification and commercialization. Disease is now considered as a major threat to aquaculture development impacting many aquaculture regions.
This FAO Expert Workshop was convened to prepare the Technical Guidelines on “Health Management for Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Organisms”as part of the Technical Guideline series of FAO's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) in order to assist countries that are in the process of developing or improving aquatic animal health programs to meet international standards (e.g. trade standards under WTO's Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) and aquatic animal health standards of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Twenty six experts on aquatic animal health who participated in the workshop were divided into 4 Working Groups (WG) and tackled the following major issues:
Guiding Principles and Regional and International Cooperation
Risk Assessment and the Precautionary Principle for Pathogens of Concern at the National, Local Authority and Farm/Fishery Level
Infrastructure for Disease Diagnosis, Surveillance and Zonation, Reporting and Emergency Response
Integration of National Authority, Local Authority and Farm Management Programs
Working Group 1 expanded on Article 9 of CCRF and developed the Guiding Principles addressing movement associated with disease and pathogen transfer but not on ecological or genetic issues. The WG elaborated on the role of regional and international cooperation in providing appropriate information, advisory and guidelines, in building consensus, resolving disputes, developing harmonized risk assessment approaches and implementing practical national aquatic animal health management stategies This WG also elaborated on the role of regional and international cooperation in providing appropriate information, advisory and guidelines, in building consensus, resolving disputes, developing harmonized risk assessment approaches and implementing practical national aquatic animal health management strategies to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of diseases.
Working Group 2 developed a scheme for incorporating the precautionary approach into risk analysis procedures when there is scientific uncertainty. Under the FAO/Sweden operational definition of a precautionary approach, a proposal to import aquatic organisms is examined, reference points are established, surveillance and monitoring programmes put in place, contingency plans such as quarantine or destruction of stocks agreed upon, and the proposal or operating procedures are modified accordingly, unless the import is flatly denied as being too risky. The precautionary approach, thus, has elements of adaptive management, i.e., feedback and modification, once it has been decided that the risk of an imported species could at least be evaluated with the species in the importing country. The WG recommended that using the term adaptive management, rather than “precautionary approach”for these latter stages of risk analysis was preferred.
Working Group 3 identified two major areas of concern with respect to aquatic animal movement:
(a) Fundamental Infrastructure - basic broad infrastructure components which need to be considered at each step in the movement of live aquatic animals: human resources, communication, proficiency/training, equipment and materials and regulatory framework; and (b) Conceptual Framework -the five steps which are common denominators in the thought process when considering the movement of live aquatic animals -risk analysis, regulatory requirements, health status of animals, transportation and deposit of aquatic animals. The WG presented options for integrating the Fundamental Infrastructure and the Conceptual Framework and mechanisms for building capacity for country's fundamental infrastructure which could range from simple and inexpensive to complicated and expensive, or anything in between where one is not necessarily better than the other, but a progressive program that will regularly review, adjust and improve the concept and the application of integration. In this manner, countries will be given ample room to identify areas for practical, possible and immediate improvement.
Working Group 4 defined the meaning of integration and described the benefits of integration and identified National Aquatic Animal Health (NAAH) Strategy and Plan as the focal action program which will identify institutional needs, responsibilities and the stakeholders who should be involved in this process; identification and description of stakeholders; and legal and institutional needs and arrangements.
The Technical Guidelines and the Workshop Report are being finalised and expected to be presented during the Third Session of COFI's Sub-Committee on Aquaculture to be held in India in September 2006.
M. Shariff, UMP, Malaysia
Lake Dambula, Sri Lanka
1 Melba B.
Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service,
FAO Fisheries Department, Rome