Aquatic animal health measures approved

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A change in AVMA policy encourages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to help fund activities aimed at prevention, control and eradication of foreign aquatic animal pathogens.

The Executive Board approved changes to the policy "Foreign Aquatic Animal Pathogens," which now encourages those federal agencies to aid the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in funding activities to prevent the introduction of foreign aquatic animal pathogens and to develop programs for the control and eradication of foreign animal diseases in aquatic species, similar to programs for animal diseases in terrestrial species.

The policy previously mentioned only USDA-APHIS. But the changes, approved by the board April 3, recognize that the USFWS and the NMFS will fill an important role in helping implement the activities. They are also participating in the development of the U.S. National Aquatic Animal Health Plan that is anticipated to be rolled out later in 2009.

The board also revised the policy "AVMA Statement on Veterinarians in Aquatic Animal Medicine," which now states USDA-accredited veterinarians, state veterinarians, and the USDA-APHIS "should be"—rather than "are"—the final authorities in inspecting and certifying the health of aquatic animals. Authorities in other federal agencies issue export health certificates for some aquatic animals.

The board also discontinued financial support for the national new animal drug application coordinator for aquaculture. The AVMA has provided $10,000 annually to partly support the salary of the coordinator, who helped expedite the FDA approval of new drugs for use in aquaculture.

All three recommendations came from the AVMA Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee.