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 and veterinary public health worldwide, including through standards 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 veterinary authorities of importing and exporting countries to provide for early detection, reporting and control agents pathogenic to aquatic animals and, in the case of zoonotic diseases, for humans, and to prevent their transfer via international trade in aquatic animals and aquatic animal products, while avoiding unjustified sanitary barriers to trade.
The health measures in the Aquatic Code have been formally adopted by the World Assembly of the Delegates of the OIE Members. This 15th edition incorporates the modifications to the Aquatic Code agreed during the 80th General Session in May 2012. The 2012 edition includes revised information on the following subjects: glossary; notification of diseases and epidemiological information; criteria for listing aquatic animal diseases; diseases listed by the OIE; import risk analysis; welfare of farmed fish during transport; welfare aspects of stunning and killing of farmed fish for human consumption; and disinfection of salmonid eggs for infectious haematopoietic necrosis, infectious salmon anaemia and viral haemorrhagic septicaemia.
This edition includes four new chapters on communication; monitoring of the quantities and usage patterns of antimicrobial agents used in aquatic animals; development and harmonisation of national antimicrobial resistance surveillance and monitoring programmes for aquatic animals; and killing of farmed fish for disease control purposes.
The development of these standards and recommendations results from the ongoing work of one of the OIE's Specialist Commissions, the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission (Aquatic Animals Commission). This Commission, which comprises six elected members and one observer, meets twice yearly to address its work programme. The Commission also draws upon the expertise of internationally renowned specialists to prepare draft texts for new chapters of the Aquatic Code or revise existing chapters in light of advances in veterinary knowledge. The views of the National Delegates of OIE Members are systematically sought through the circulation of draft and revised texts. As well, the Aquatic Animals Commission collaborates closely with the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission on issues needing a harmonised approach, and with the Biological Standards and Scientific Commissions to ensure the Aquatic Animals Commission's work is based on the latest scientific information.
The standards published in the Aquatic Code are the result of consensus among the veterinary authorities of OIE Members and are references for World Trade Organization (WTO) Members under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, in regard to which the OIE provides the health standards for safe international trade in aquatic animals and their products.
The OIE Aquatic Code is a reference document for use by Competent Authorities, import/export services, epidemiologists and all those involved in international trade of aquatic animals and their products.
To help Members use the Aquatic Code, the OIE has updated the Glossary, which contains definitions of the key terms and expressions used in the publication.
Part 1 contains provisions for aquatic animal disease diagnosis, surveillance and notification, on risk analysis and on the quality of competent authorities; provides general recommendations on disease prevention and control; sets out trade measures, import/export procedures and model health certificates and provides guidelines on the welfare of farmed fish during transport.
The recommendations in the disease chapters in Sections 8 to 11 of the Aquatic Code are intended to prevent the pathogen in question being introduced into the importing country, taking into account the nature of the traded commodity and the aquatic animal health status of the exporting country. Correctly applied, the recommendations provide for trade with an optimal level of animal health security, incorporating the latest scientific findings and available techniques.
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