Aquatic Animal Health and Disease Regulations*

Comment on this policy

Uniform and standardized approaches to formulating and implementing state, national and international regulations optimizing the health of aquatic animal and for the prevention, control and possible eradication of aquatic animal diseases are pivotal to the future of U.S. commercial aquaculture, wild fisheries and ornamental (pet), research and exhibit aquatic animal industries.

As such, the AVMA is dedicated to working with these industries, state and federal government agencies to ensure the following principles are incorporated in regulations that involve the prevention, control and eradication of aquatic animal diseases:

  1. The development or modification of all regulations concerning aquatic animal diseases must be transparent, consider all industry and other stakeholder's needs and input, and should not be promulgated unless there is a demonstrated significant hazard and risk from any disease.
  2. State, National and International agencies should utilize uniform, standardized, practical and justifiable approaches for aquatic disease regulations that apply to appropriate aquatic animal private and public sectors, irrespective of which government agency promulgates the regulations.
  3. Regulations must be structured to be practical and effective for the intended purposes without excessive or unnecessary industry or veterinary actions, activities, requirements or burdens.
  4. Regulations should be consistent with the following principles:
    1. At the Federal and State levels, when possible, regulations should be under the jurisdiction of the same agency that oversees terrestrial animal health and diseases; when impacting wild fisheries, regulations should be developed and implemented in close collaboration with the agency that oversees wildlife and natural resources.
    2. Clearly identifying specific diseases as hazards and risks to specific industries or sectors, and utilize risk analysis (including risk identification, management/mitigation and communications) before considering any disease as reportable and regulated.
    3. Utilize USDA Accredited Veterinarians and Certificates of Veterinary Inspection for verifying and documenting the presence or absence of regulated diseases, and for ensuring animals traded or moved are not infected.
    4. Incorporating paraveterinary professionals, particularly those involved in laboratory disease diagnostics, as part of the 'veterinary response team' within the constraints of State Veterinary Practice Acts and the U.S. National Veterinary Accreditation Program.
    5. Not include animal diseases or pathogens as "invasive," "injurious," or "nuisance" species.
    6. Consider other issues that enhance the health of aquatic animals, including their humane treatment, welfare and euthanasia, environmental issues, zoonotic diseases and seafood safety.

* Formerly Titled "Guidelines for Development and Application of Aquatic Animal Health Regulations and Control Programs"