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Pathway Towards Improving Aquaculture Biosecurity

12/04/2018

10-12 April 2018, Washington, DC – Aquaculture is a significant contributor to global fish supplies, producing 80 million tons of fish valued at USD $231.6 billion in 2016. However, diseases in aquaculture production can have detrimental impacts on the future of fisheries while causing significant revenue losses. To map out approaches to manage aquatic animal disease, FAO, in partnership with Mississippi State University (MSU) and the World Bank, convened a multi-stakeholder workshop with 45 participants from government, industry and academia. 

“During the last three decades, the [Aquaculture] sector has faced a growing number of emerging and re-emerging diseases approximately every three to five years. Too often, there is a long-time lapse from the time that an emergent disease was observed in the field to the time when the disease was reported, a diagnostic method was developed, an etiologic agent was identified, and finally appropriate disease management or risk management measures were determined and implemented. These time lapses have led to significant production losses and losses of revenue in aquaculture, in many occasions seriously collapsing the industry at local and national levels,"said Dr. Arni Mathiesen in his opening speech. 

The two and a half-day consultation produced consensus to support the Progressive Management Pathway for Aquaculture Biosecurity (PMP-AB) as a framework to promote, develop, and monitor national strategies for aquatic diseases. PMP-AB, is an extension of Progressive Control Pathways (PCP), which is used to control major livestock and zoonotic diseases by building capacity from the bottom up to promote risk management applications at the production level. 

The consultation at the World Bank was followed by a congressional briefing in the Capitol Building on the importance of biosecurity for aquaculture production hosted in partnership with Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) and MSU. Dr. Rohana Subasinghe of Future Fish noted the importance of aquaculture in meeting the growing global demand for fish. Providing an overview of different types of aquatic diseases and their impact, Dr. Larry Hanson from the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine emphasized how aquatic disease is the largest threat to the US aquaculture industry. Dr. Frank Asche from University of Florida highlighted the significance of aquaculture biosecurity for domestic US fish consumption - of which 90% is imported- and US industries operating in the sector. Dr. Mark Lawrence, Director of MSU’s Global Center for Aquatic Food Security, highlighted the potential role the US can play in protecting US and international aquaculture. FAO Aquaculture Officer, Dr. Melba Reantaso, shared the outcomes of the consultation workshop and explained PMP-AB as way to enable countries implement biosecurity to protect aquatic animals from disease threats and the economic implications.