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Aquatic Animals


Aquatic animal health  

OIE international Standards: the key to improve aquatic animal health and welfare of farmed fish

Since 1995, the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Code (Aquatic Code) provides international Standards for the prevention, detection and control of significant aquatic animal diseases as well as to ensure the safe international trade of amphibians, crustaceans, fish, molluscs and their products.

In May of each year, new or revised chapters are adopted by the OIE World Assembly of Delegates for inclusion in the OIE Aquatic Code, which is published annually (access to the online version).

The OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals (Aquatic Manual) provides a uniform approach to the diagnosis of the diseases listed in the OIE Aquatic Code as well as some other  important diseases. It describes the diagnostic methods that can be applied in aquatic animal health laboratories all over the world and chapters are regularly revised and updated as new information becomes available.

A new edition is published every 4 years but any updated or new chapters adopted by the World Assembly are made available on the online version.

The standard-setting process for OIE international Standards is responsive, science-based and transparent. Many actors are involved in their development including OIE Members, international experts and Specialist Commissions. In the case of the international Standards for aquatic animals, their development is overseen by the work of the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission.



Learn more about their development and the role of different actor’s in the process in this video.

Providing a window into the aquatic animal health situation

The OIE also provides information on the aquatic animal disease situation worldwide –including disease alerts – through the online World Animal Health Information System (OIE-WAHIS). This information is important for Member Countries to enable them to act as soon as possible in order to prevent the spread of transboundary and emerging diseases. Access here to the OIE list of notifiable aquatic animal diseases.

Reporting information, improving trade!

With the increase in aquaculture and the global trade of aquatic animals and their products, there is a risk that diseases will spread to new geographic areas and new diseases will emerge.

Learn in this infographic about the importance of reporting information on aquatic animal health through the OIE-WAHIS platform and how it can help countries to control diseases and ensure safe international trade.



Annual report for wildlife: a win-win investment!

Considering the open environments in which aquatic animals often live, some diseases can also cause significant negative impacts on wild populations: for example, 96 % of the fire salamander population in the Netherlands died after an outbreak of B. salamandrivorans in 2010. This disease can have significant impacts in wild populations (including extinction) in many amphibian species and is a serious threat to biodiversity (for more information refer to the technical disease card).

Disease surveillance in wildlife is essential to collect data and enable better responses to these threats. Read about the benefits of the WAHIS-Wild annual report for wildlife in this infographic.




Strengthening Aquatic Animal Health Services through the OIE PVS Pathway

The OIE PVS Pathway is a continuous process aimed at sustainably improving the compliance of a Member’s Veterinary Services or Aquatic Animal Health Service with relevant OIE international Standards.

The first edition of the ‘OIE Tool for the evaluation of Performance of Veterinary Services and/or Aquatic Animal Health Services (AAHS)1’ (PVS Tool: Aquatic) was published in 2013. PVS Evaluation missions assist a Member to establish its current level of performance, to identify gaps and weaknesses in their ability to comply with OIE international Standards, to form a shared vision with stakeholders (including the private sector) and to define priorities and carry out strategic initiatives. Learn more about the OIE PVS Tool: Aquatic



Building national capacities

Each OIE Member Country is represented by a national Delegate to the OIE. Delegates are encouraged to nominate a national Focal Point for Aquatic Animals. This Focal Point is responsible for supporting the Delegate to participate in the standard setting process and to fulfil the country’s obligations as an OIE Member (e.g. disease notification and compliance with OIE international Standards). The OIE has established training programmes to support the capacity building of the national Focal Point for Aquatic Animals. Learn more about the Focal Point for Aquatic Animals terms of reference.

Providing an international network of aquatic animal experts

The OIE global scientific expertise in aquatic animal health is composed by 33 Reference Laboratories and 2 Collaborating Centres located around the world. Get an overview of their role here.


1 In some countries the Veterinary Services are the Competent Authority for Aquatic Animal Health Services while, in others, other agencies of government hold this responsibility.