Call for comment: Proposed recognition of new specialty

Group asks ABVS to recognize fish practice as a specialty

The AVMA’s American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS) has received a letter of intent from a group seeking recognition for a new fish practice specialty within the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. The ABVS is seeking public comment on the proposal through September 2, 2022.

The organizing committee that requested recognition of the new specialty is sponsored by the American Association of Fish Veterinarians, with support from the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association (WAVMA). The group provided this "Justification for intent to form an American Board of Veterinary Practitioners Fish Practice Recognized Veterinary Specialty ."

Justification for intent to form an American Board of Veterinary Practitioners Fish Practice recognized veterinary specialty

Vision: Fish comprise over 35,000 species in the world and are utilized in a variety of industries including aquaculture, exhibitions, laboratory research, as a natural resource, and as pets. The veterinary medical knowledge pertaining to these industries and fish in general has grown significantly over the years and should be considered a distinct knowledge base from other recognized veterinary specialties (RVSs). As such, the organizing committee (OC), sponsored by the American Association of Fish Veterinarians (AAFV) with support from the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association (WAVMA), believes that a RVS dedicated to fish should be established. Since the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) is the species-specific recognized veterinary specialty organization (RVSO), we also believe that the ABVP should be the RVSO to oversee this Fish Practice RVS. The ABVP – Fish Practice RVS would target veterinarians working in all sectors of fish medicine: pet, zoo and aquaria, commercial aquaculture, academia, research, natural resource, and governmental agencies.

Goals: The proposed ABVP – Fish Practice RVS 1) will improve services to the public and stakeholders by identifying veterinarians who are knowledgeable and competent in fish practice; 2) will continue to support publication of scholarly fish medicine and surgery work; 3) will continue to provide/develop and support annual continuing veterinary medical education for veterinarians with an interest in fish medicine, and 4) will continue to work with academic, government, and non-governmental organizations to ensure humane care and welfare of fish.

Argument for consideration for ABVS/AVMA recognition as an ABVP RVS: The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) currently certifies veterinarians in avian, reptile/amphibian, beef cattle, canine/feline, dairy, equine, exotic companion mammal, feline, food animal practice, swine health management, and shelter medicine. Mammals including dogs, cats, cattle, horses, pigs, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, Guinea pigs, gerbils, and other rodents are quite different from birds and reptiles/amphibians. Fish represent another unique species group. While comparative biology is an important field, many organismal biologists specialize their research according to taxonomic class. This allows scientists who are motivated by taxonomic class to focus their efforts within an easily defined category. Veterinarians may also develop special skills and knowledge specific to taxonomic class.

Further, modern mammal veterinarians tend to focus their efforts within a narrow range of species. For example, it is becoming less common for swine veterinarians to work with horses and feline veterinarians are unlikely to work with beef cattle. Similarly, a number of avian veterinarians have little interest in reptile/amphibian medicine. Fish medicine uniquely involves a diverse paraphyletic group of species requiring an aquatic environment for life and health, in addition to the challenges of the disease conditions that afflict them and their diversity of production methods.

The demand for fish practitioners in all areas of fish medicine – pet, zoos and aquaria, commercial aquaculture, academia, research, natural resource, and regulatory – has risen significantly over the past 15- 20 years. The need for expertise in fish practice has been mirrored by increasing memberships in both the American Association of Fish Veterinarians (AAFV) and the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association (WAVMA). Fish medicine courses and programs provided by veterinary schools, at numerous veterinary and fish health conferences, by independent entities, and online, have helped, to a degree, fill the knowledge gap and increased capacity of veterinarians to work in these areas.

Concurrently, job opportunities that require a much higher degree of fish medicine expertise have increased over time in the U.S. and globally. Therefore, the next logical step is to create an ABVP – Fish Practice RVS so the public and employers can identify veterinarians with the expertise in fish medicine that they require to ensure their fish are provided the highest quality veterinary care.

How to comment

There are two primary purposes of public comment on proposed veterinary specialties:

Comments should be mailed to ABVSatavma [dot] org (subject: Fish%20Practice%20public%20comment) with the subject line "Fish Practice public comment."  All comments must be received no later than September 2, 2022.