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Aquatic Animal Health Code


The OIE Aquatic Animal Health Code (the Aquatic Code) sets out standards for the improvement of aquatic animal health and welfare of farmed fish worldwide, and for safe international trade in aquatic animals (amphibians, crustaceans, fish and molluscs) and their products. The health measures in the Aquatic Code should be used by the Competent Authorities of importing and exporting countries for early detection, reporting and control of agents pathogenic to aquatic animals and to prevent their transfer via international trade in aquatic animals and their products, while avoiding unjustified sanitary barriers to trade.

The standards in the Aquatic Code have been formally adopted by the World Assembly of OIE Delegates, which constitutes the organisation’s highest decision-making body. This 19th edition incorporates modifications to the Aquatic Code agreed at the 84th General Session in May 2016.

It includes updates of the table of contents and glossary, and revised text included in Chapter 1.1. Notification of diseases and provision of epidemiological information and Chapter 5.1. General obligations related to certification. Chapter 4.3. Disinfection of aquaculture establishments and equipment has been extensively revised and the title amended accordingly. Chapter 9.2. Infection with yellow head virus genotype 1 has been amended to clarify the scope of this chapter and the title revised accordingly. In addition, some minor consequential amendments have been made in Articles 1.4.3., 1.5.2., 2.1.4., 4.2.3. and 4.6.3. to ensure that the use of 'vector' is consistent with the new definition of 'vector'.

The development of these standards and recommendations is the result of the ongoing work by the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission (the Aquatic Animals Commission). This Commission, which comprises six elected members, meets twice yearly to address its work programme. This Commission draws upon the expertise of internationally renowned specialists to prepare draft texts for new articles of the Aquatic Code and to revise existing articles. The views of OIE National Delegates are routinely sought through the twice yearly circulation of new or revised texts. The Aquatic Animals Commission collaborates closely with other Specialist Commissions of the OIE, including the Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission, the Biological Standards Commission and the Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases, to ensure that the recommendations contained in the Aquatic Code are based upon the latest scientific information.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) formally recognises the role of the OIE as the international standard setting organisation for animal health and zoonotic diseases. According to the SPS Agreement, WTO Members should align their import requirements with the recommendations in the relevant standards of the OIE. Where there are no OIE recommendations or if the country chooses a level of protection requiring measures more stringent than the standards of the OIE, these should be based on an import risk analysis conducted in accordance with Chapter 2.1. The Aquatic Code is thus a key part of the WTO legal framework for international trade.

The Aquatic Code is published annually in the three official OIE languages (English, French and Spanish).

The Aquatic Code includes a User’s Guide which is designed to help Competent Authorities and other interested parties use the Aquatic Code.

Sections 1-7 of the Aquatic Code include chapters on notification, diseases listed by the OIE and surveillance for aquatic animals; risk analysis; quality of aquatic animal health services; disease prevention and control; trade measures, import/export procedures and model health certification; antimicrobial use in aquatic animals; welfare of farmed fish.

Sections 8 to 11 of the Aquatic Code include disease-specific chapters for the OIE listed aquatic animal diseases. The recommendations are intended to prevent the pathogen in question being introduced into an importing country. Each disease chapter includes a list of currently known susceptible species. The standards take into account the nature of the traded commodity, the aquatic animal health status of the exporting country, zone or compartment, and the risk reduction measures applicable to each commodity.

The Aquatic Code  is available online free of charge. 

A hard copy can be purchased from the OIE Online Bookshop.

Aquatic Code
19th Edition, 2016
Format: 29.7 x 21 cm
ISBN: 978-92-95018-12-7

Price: 45 euros
Ref.: A233