The OIE Global Conference on Aquatic Animal Health: shared responsibility and stronger commitment at all levels

Bergen, Norway – The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), in collaboration with the Norwegian government, organised the first Global Conference on Aquatic Animal Health dedicated to reinforcing the commitment of OIE Member Countries to their rights and obligations regarding disease notification and implementation of OIE standards.

Commenting on the event, Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General said that today, approximately 50 per cent of global fish production comes from farming and that bad animal health conditions are one of the major constraints to its development. “The conference applied itself at raising awareness and defining roles and responsibilities of national veterinary services, other competent authorities possibly involved and the private sector in the prevention and control of aquatic animal diseases,” Dr Vallat added.

The conference held in Bergen , Norway from 9 th to 12 th October 2006 established a set of recommendations to create a framework for improved cooperation among stakeholders, to improve global aquatic animal health monitoring, information sharing and control of aquatic animal health and welfare issues. OIE Member Countries Delegates, representatives of national veterinary services, other competent authorities and aquaculture producers made up the 150 participants strong conference.

The conference served to underpin the efforts of the OIE and those of the OIE Aquatic Animals Commission chaired by Dr Eva-Maria Bernoth in promoting training at farm level up to the veterinary network and authorities level in early detection and appropriate rapid response to aquatic animal outbreaks.

It emphasized the need for enhanced information sharing and official notification in the field of aquatic animal health based on the success of WAHIS (OIE World Animal Health Information System) in monitoring and controlling the occurrence and spread of terrestrial animal diseases.

Also, the OIE provided an update on the advancement of the elaboration of scientifically-based guidelines on aquatic animal welfare to be prepared for discussion with all OIE Member Countries. These include chapters on live transport of fish, killing for human consumption and sanitary killing of fish. Similar chapters concerning terrestrial animals already exist in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code for Terrestrial Animals.

The OIE with the support of the Aquatic Animals commission will respond to the outcomes of this first Global Conference on Aquatic Animals and implement these newly outlined recommendations using the organisation’s network, including its regional and sub regional offices.