Effective farm-level biosecurity is essential to minimise the threat of disease introduction (Pitz, 1998). Resources spent on biosecurity can be viewed as an insurance against disease outbreaks. At a national level, a high level of farm biosecurity will mitigate the impact of introduced or new diseases by reducing the likelihood of farm to farm spread. During the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak, poor farm biosecurity was identified as an important underlying cause for the rapid spread of the virus (Anderson, 2002).
The key policy driver for this project is the requirement under the new European fish health directive (EC 2006/88) (Anon., 2006) that all aquaculture businesses develop a health plan . We propose to use data collected by the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) during their statutory farm visits to review current aquaculture biosecurity of finfish and mollusc farms in England and Wales, identify the main areas of weakness, and use this analysis to advise farmers on biosecurity practices that will have the greatest impact to protect and improve the health status of their stock. We will review current industry codes of practice covering trout, carp and shellfish farming (developed by the BTA, Scottish Aquaculture (via the AHJWG) and OATA), e.g. OATA, 2006. Within the trout farming sector, the main risk factors associated with table, restocking and hatchery activities will be identified. This analysis will provide a measure of the current level of biosecurity as a benchmark for evaluating future change in practices. Where we find gaps in information, the FHI will be advised on how to modify their data collection thus improving the robustness of future farm risk-ranking assessment.
This project will provide a better understanding of disease risk in the fish farming industry. The liaison between the FHI and farmers in the development of farm health plans will provide an opportunity to communicate these risks and achieve a high level of biosecurity in farmed fish populations, which in turn will have benefits for the welfare of farmed fish and decrease the probability of pathogen introduction and spread in England and Wales.
Anderson, I., 2002. Foot and Mouth 2001: Lessons to be learnt inquiry report. The Stationery Office, London, p. 187.
Anon., 2006. Council Directive 2006/88/EC of 24 October 2006 on animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products thereof, and on the prevention and control of certain diseases in aquatic animals.,. Official Journal of the European Union L328/14, 43.
OATA, 2006. Biosecurity and the ornamental fish industry 'Future proofing the industry'. Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association, Westbury, p. 174.
Opitz, M., 1998. Biosecurity: An essential tool of disease management in aquaculture.