Regulatory Brief

 Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia; Interstate Movement and Import Restrictions on Certain Live Fish

Formal title: Docket Number [APHIS-2007-0038; RIN 0579-AC74] Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia; Interstate Movement and Import Restrictions on Certain Live Fish

In the September 9, 2008 Federal Register the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the establishment of regulations to restrict the interstate movement and importation into the United States of live fish that are susceptible to viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), a highly contagious disease of fresh and saltwater fish. This action is necessary to prevent further introductions into, and dissemination within, the United States of VHS.

In the October 28, 2008 Federal Register, the USDA APHIS announced it would be delaying the effective date of the interim rule until January 9, 2009. This delay will provide APHIS with the time to consider all comments and make some adjustments to the interim rule that may be necessary in order to successfully implement it.

Docket No. APHIS-2007-0038 RIN 0579-AC74: Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia; Interstate Movement and Import Restrictions on Certain Live Fish.

Brief Description and AVMA Response:

The AVMA responded to the interim rule with the following.

The AVMA believes it is imperative that the proposed interim rule be developed based on sound epidemiological scientific principles and appropriate risk analysis; be designed as a model for other aquatic animal regulations; that the final processes and procedures are harmonized with local, interstate and international regulations and approaches; and, that the approaches address aquaculture industry concerns.

In addition AVMA suggests that:

  • Biosecurity programs should serve as the basis for farms to be certified and audited to be VHS free.
  • Surveillance, monitoring and disease-freedom certification programs should be based on epidemiological units (zones, compartments and facilities - farms) not state political boundaries.
  • There needs to be adequate workforce to support and implement the interim rule.
  • Certificates of Inspection attesting to the health of aquatic animals and used for certifying their disease status for intrastate, interstate and international movement, should only be issued by appropriate government-employed veterinarians, or USDA-accredited veterinarians.
  • There are logistical constraints to compliance with the diagnostic sampling requirements and that associated costs could be prohibitive.
  • The requirement of a visual inspection within 72 hours of shipment does not provide any added benefit to biosecurity programs or in minimizing disease transmission.

Background Documents:

View AVMA response to USDA (PDF)

September 9, 2008 Federal Register notice (PDF)

October 28, 2008 Federal Register notice (PDF)

January 2, 2009 Federal Register notice (PDF)  


AVMA responded on November 10, 2008.

APHIS published an announcement in the January 2, 2009 Federal register stating that the effective dated for the interim rule amending 9 CFR parts 71, 83, and 93 published at 73 FR 51273-52189 on September 9, 2008, is delayed indefinitely.