The AVMA has established a liaison to the National Aquatic Animal Health Task Force of the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture. Dr. Don Hoenig, the state veterinarian for Maine who is also the public health/epidemiology representative to the AVMA Aquaculture and Seafood Advisory Committee, was approved for the position.
The subcommittee was created as the result of federal legislation passed in the 1980s. It serves as a federal interagency coordinating group to increase the overall effectiveness and productivity of U.S. aquaculture research, transfer, and assistance programs.
In September 2000, the AVMA committee conveyed a message to the subcommittee of the need for a national aquatic animal health policy because of outbreaks of exotic and endemic aquatic animal diseases. Moreover, they believe there is a need for coordinated efforts by state and federal agencies to establish uniform approaches to minimize adverse effects from diseases in cultured and wild aquatic animals.
As a result, the National Aquatic Animal Health Task Force was formed. A top official from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture will chair the task force, with co-chairs from National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The task force has been charged with developing and implementing a national aquatic animal health plan for aquaculture, in partnership with industry, regional organizations, state, local and tribal governments, and other stakeholders. Goals include facilitating the legal movement of all aquatic animals, their eggs, and products in interstate and international commerce; ensuring availability of diagnostic, inspection, and certification services; and minimizing the disease effects resulting from interaction between cultured and wild aquatic animals.
The AVMA is recognized as a primary stakeholder in this area, and was invited to be part of the task force, according to District XI representative, Dr. Harmon A. Rogers, who represents the Executive Board on the AVMA committee. The group met for the first time in December, and anticipates meeting four times a year.
In a separate action, the Executive Board approved annual presentations of the AVMA tabletop booth exhibit at six additional meetings pertaining to veterinary, aquaculture, and aquatic animal health matters, beginning in 2003.