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Growing aquaculture sector must be equipped to manage the risk of aquatic animal diseases, say experts

Hundreds of aquatic animal experts gather to discuss the health challenges and solutions within the aquaculture sector at the OIE Global Conference on Aquatic Animal Health in Chile.

Santiago (Chile), 2 April 2019 - Aquatic animal diseases are threatening the economic and environmental sustainability of aquaculture, the fastest-growing food production sector in the world and a source of income for almost 20 million of people, a global conference will hear.

As hundreds of aquatic animal health experts gather from April 2 to 4 in Santiago, Chile, for the OIE Global Conference on Aquatic Animal Health, the focus will fall on global performance in preventing disease, which costs more than US$6 billion a year, monitoring outbreaks across borders, and the need to implement the international Standards to help uphold aquatic animal health.

“With the aquaculture sector growing rapidly in demand and production, it will likely face greater disease risk and health challenges,” Dr Monique Eloit, OIE Director General, said. “But by collaborating across borders and implementing OIE international Standards, we can limit outbreaks of emerging diseases, which have already caused significant losses throughout the world, impacting national economies in some countries and threatening a vital source of nutritious animal protein.”

The conference, which is hosted and supported by the government of Chile, will highlight the critical need for coordinated global health programs to safeguard aquaculture productivity and sustainability.

Aquatic animals today provide around 3.2 billion people with almost 20 per cent of their average per capita intake of animal protein. But recent projections suggest that, to satisfy the growing demand for fish and seafood, production will have to double by 2030, with the majority of this growth coming from aquaculture.

Careful management of the health of aquatic animals has consequently become essential to supporting the development of sustainable aquaculture and to overcome sanitary and biodiversity challenges emerging from high production and trade volumes, as well as from the open environment in which these populations often live.

The conference theme, “Collaboration, Sustainability: Our Future”, includes a programme of discussions around disease management, biosecurity and responsible use of antimicrobials, main challenges currently faced by the aquaculture sector.

The conference will also highlight recent updates on OIE Aquatic Code and Aquatic Manual, and discuss OIE’s critical disease reporting tool – the World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS).

Other highlights include sessions on managing transboundary diseases and emerging diseases; biosecurity for aquaculture establishments; how to implement OIE international Standards; and advances in disease management.

“Aquaculture is practised by both some of the world’s poorest farmers and by multinational companies,” Dr Eloit added. “Keeping aquatic animals healthy will help secure the livelihoods of millions around the world, protect the diversity of life below water, and ensure food security for our future generations. Implementation of the OIE international Standards is key for a sustainable aquaculture development through the improvement of the aquatic animal health worldwide.”

The conference will be live-streamed in full at www.oie.int/aquatic-conference2019

The OIE would like to thank the Government of Chile for its significant support in organising this conference.

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