Leaders in fish medicine hope to gain recognition of their field as a specialty in veterinary medicine.
The American Association of Fish Veterinarians, with support from the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association, has begun the process of developing a petition to have fish practice recognized as a veterinary specialty within the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. The specialty would help identify veterinarians with training specific to fish.
The AVMA is seeking comments on the proposal through Sept. 2. The AVMA website includes the justification and goals for the specialty as well as instructions on how to comment on the proposal.
Dr. Johnny Shelley, immediate past president of the AAFV, said fish veterinarians, their clients, and the fish themselves would benefit from the specialty.
Board certification can help veterinarians stand out among their peers, whether they focus on fish medicine or just incorporate it into their work, he said. Board certification also can reassure aquaculture producers that the veterinarians they hire can provide the level of care expected. And government agencies can have more confidence that the veterinarians they hire understand fish health–related issues.
“The specialty is going to allow clients to identify veterinarians who have the knowledge and expertise that prepares them to provide high-quality veterinary care,” Dr. Shelley said.
He said a specialty in fish medicine also could provide reassurance that diplomates are able to help provide fish with the most humane care and best welfare possible.
A rising proportion of veterinary colleges are seeing the importance of providing education in fish care, Dr. Shelley said. Organizations dedicated to fish medicine and the broader veterinary community are offering more continuing education opportunities in the area, he added, and the numbers of externship opportunities and academic positions in fish medicine have been increasing as well.
The letter of intent submitted by the AAFV and WAVMA states that the specialty would be open to veterinarians working in all sectors of fish medicine, including pet care, zoo and aquarium medicine, commercial aquaculture, academia, research, natural resources, and regulatory work.