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Like other farming systems, aquaculture is plagued with disease problems resulting from its intensification and commercialization. Various factors have contributed to the current disease problems faced by what is now the fastest growing food-producing sector globally. These include the following: (a) increased globalization of trade and markets; (b) intensification of fish-farming practices through the movement of broodstock, postlarvae, fry and fingerlings; (c) introduction of new species for aquaculture development; (d) expansion of the ornamental fish trade; (e) enhancement of marine and coastal areas through the stocking of aquatic animals raised in hatcheries; (f) unanticipated interactions between cultured and wild populations of aquatic animals; (g) poor or lack of effective biosecurity measures; (h) slow awareness on emerging diseases; (i) misunderstanding and misuse of specific pathogen free (SPF) stocks; (j) climate change; and (k) other human-mediated movements of aquaculture commodities.

The Department has a long history of collaboration and partnership with national, regional and international organizations including the private sector and professional societies in developing and implementing aquatic animal health strategies (e.g. guidelines, diagnostic guides, pathogen risk analysis, surveillance, etc.) aimed at providing solutions to aquatic health problems facing the aquaculture sector. Activities range from development of technical guidelines and manual of procedures, technical assistance for the responsible movement of live aquatic animals, capacity building on various areas of aquatic animal health management, publication of parasite checklists, etc.

On-going activities include a number of Technical Cooperation Projects (TCPs) dealing with various aspects of health management, projects on aquatic animal biosecurity, an updated version of the FAO’s Aquatic Animal Pathogen and Quarantine Information System (AAPQIS), and the CCRF Technical Guidelines on Health Management for the Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Animals.

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