Animal waste, legislation among aquaculture issues board addresses

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The AVMA Executive Board acted on a number of recommendations concerning aquatic animal veterinary medicine, including adopting a new animal agriculture waste management policy and speaking out about two pieces of federal legislation.

At its April meeting, the board referred a recommended position of the Committee on Environmental Issues that would replace the AVMA Position Statement on Animal Agriculture Waste Management to the Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee. After reviewing the statement, the committee concurred with the CEI proposal, stating it would apply equally to aquaculture.

The CEI noted that, in light of increased animal waste regulations passed in the 2002 farm bill, replacing the statement would strengthen the AVMA position on the issues. Additionally, the position should support current legislation and highlight how animal waste is more regulated than inorganic sources of the same nutrients.

The new Position Statement on Animal Agriculture Waste Management reads as follows:

Appropriately managed animal waste materials are valuable nutrient sources for sustainable agriculture systems. The AVMA supports the basic premises of current legislation and regulations, and recognizes that excessive wastes entering the environment from animal production operations are undesirable. Other land applications of nutrients and pesticides are not nearly as regulated as animal waste. Veterinarians, as trusted consultants, should be aware of the value, potential hazards and legal restrictions concerning animal waste.

Therefore the AVMA supports the following:

  • Nutrients should be applied in a manner that facilitates the long-term sustainability of the environment.
  • Education, outreach, and extension programs to assist producers in achieving these requirements. This includes aid in establishing and implementing nutrient management plans as well as design and construction of effective waste management facilities to prevent contamination of the environment.
  • Research on animal waste management systems and procedures to improve environmental quality.

Critical studies of the environmental impact of drugs, pathogens and naturally occurring chemicals from animal/human waste sources in the environment. A comparison of the relative impact of animal and human waste sources is needed to prioritize investment in control measures.

The Executive Board also approved the Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee recommendations of support for the National Offshore Aquaculture Act and nonsupport for the Natural Stock Conservation Act.

According to the AVMC, The National Offshore Aquaculture Act as sponsored by Sen. Ted Stevens of Arkansas, could lead to substantial seafood production, decreased dependence on imported seafood, and considerable improvement in the U.S. animal agriculture trade deficit, of which seafood importation is the major contributor. The legislation—S. 1195—has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

It is the committee's opinion that the Natural Stock Conservation Act, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Arkansas, is counter to the National Offshore Aquaculture Act. If enacted, S. 796 would inhibit U.S. aquaculture development, and the AVMA should, therefore, not support it, the committee wrote.

The board reaffirmed the AVMA Position Statement on Guidelines for Development and Application of Aquatic Animal Health Regulations and Control Programs. After reviewing the guidelines, the Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee recommended they be reaffirmed, since they provide important direction for use in the ongoing development of the National Aquatic Animal Health Plan.

Finally, the board approved the AVMA as a co-sponsor of the 5th International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health, to be held in San Francisco, Sept. 2-6, 2006.