Issuing Health Certificates for Export of Live Finfish, Crustaceans, Mollusks, and Their Products

Formal title: Docket Number [04-101-1] Notice of Request for Approval of an Information Collection (12/3/04)


Three federal agencies are proposing to jointly implement an official U.S. health certificate for aquatic animal export that, under the Federal Paperwork Reduction Act, requires approval of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before it can be used as an official government document.

In December 2004 and November 2005, agency notices explained the importance of health certificates for farm-raised and other aquatic animals and suggested that, based on a Memorandum of Understanding between the three agencies and Congressional legislative authority cited therein, that USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Department of Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) would act as "co-competent authorities."

If approved by OMD, these U.S. Export health certificates could be issued by a USDA Accredited Veterinarian, an American Fisheries Society (AFS) Certified Fish Health Inspector, or an AFS Certified Fish Pathologist, and endorsed by either an APHIS Area Veterinarian-in-Charge, or an employee of USFWS or NMFS.

While commending USDA-APHIS on initiating a process for issuing aquatic animal health certificates, the AVMA suggested that OMB should not approve this certificate as the AVMA believes that:

The requirements for issuing aquatic animal health certificates should proceed through the regular rule-making process with public comment;

  • The passage of the Animal Health Protection Act or 2002 provided clear, unequivocal and full authority to USDA for all animal health regulations;
  • If implemented, these certificates would undermine the codified National Veterinary Accreditation Program and other USDA initiatives for safeguarding U.S. animal health; and,
  • Duplicative veterinarian, non-veterinarian and agency issuance and endorsement of health certificates would not be in the best interests of the aquaculture industries, the U.S. or other countries, and would not adequately protect others from importing diseased or infected animals.

Background Documents:

View AVMA response to OMB and APHIS (PDF)

December 3, 2004 Federal Register notice (PDF)

November 10, 2005 Federal Register notice (PDF)

Proposed draft health certificate (PDF)


AVMA responded on December 9, 2005, and is awaiting a response from OMB and APHIS.