Aquatic ecosystems

The AVMA recognizes the pressing need for effective actions, based on sound science and coordinated among all relevant stakeholders, to ensure the future health of aquatic animals and the ecosystems that support them. The AVMA believes that veterinarians, with their education and experience in the application of science in the field of integrated health management, can and should play a pivotal role in addressing this need. The recommended actions are grouped under the three general areas of sustainability, education and involvement.

1. Sustainable use and conservation of aquatic animal resources

The AVMA supports resource conservation and utilization that minimizes negative impacts on the health of aquatic animals and the ecosystems that support them.

Actions needed are:

  • Promoting and increasing the veterinarian's involvement, role and responsibility in managing aquatic ecosystems and watersheds, in ensuring the biosecurity of aquaculture systems, and in maintaining the health of captive and free-living populations of aquatic animals;
  • Recognizing and supporting ecosystem health including development of sustainable domestic aquaculture and fisheries practices;
  • Opposing specific aquatic animal management practices that have negative impact(s) on aquatic animal health, populations or welfare.

2. Education for aquatic veterinary professionals

The AVMA supports veterinary education and broader access to information on aquatic animal and ecosystem health.

Actions needed are:

  • Including aquatic animal and ecosystem health in veterinary curricula and increased research and training opportunities for veterinarians in post-graduate education;
  • Increasing collaboration among scientific organizations and associations active in research and promotion of aquatic animal and ecosystem health;
  • Expanding opportunities and recognizing continuing education focused on aquatic animal and ecosystem health at scientific meetings;
  • Encouraging state veterinary licensing boards to accept continuing education in aquatic animal and ecosystem health at scientific meetings.

3. Involvement in legislation, regulations and policies

The veterinary profession should actively collaborate and cooperate with stakeholders, including federal, state, regional, and municipal agencies on optimal aquatic animal and ecosystem health.

Actions needed are:

  • Providing support for science-based legislation and regulations that support sustainable ecosytems, including endangered, threatened or sensitive species;
  • Communicating with stakeholders, including government and the general public, to promote cooperative efforts that benefit aquatic animal habitats and establish new protected habitats.