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10. Annexes – 2. Results of the “Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) Regional Aquatic Animal Health Capacity and Performance Survey”

The purpose of this survey was to obtain information regarding national capacities of the agencies mandated to implement aquatic biosecurity programmes in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories served the SPC. The survey also collected relevant information essential to support the development of the aquaculture sector through healthy aquatic production. Furthermore, the survey obtained national opinions on the components and activities to be included in the present regional aquatic biosecurity strategy.

Survey sections

The survey questionnaires contain 18 sections pertaining to:

(1) International trade in live aquatic animals and national border controls, (10) research,
(2) control of domestic movement of live aquatic animals and other domestic activities that may spread pathogens, (11) Training,
(3) Policy and planning, (12) Expertise,
(4) Legislation, (13) Infrastructure,
(5) Disease surveillance/and monitoring, (14) Linkages and cooperation,
(6) Disease diagnostics, (15) Funding support,
(7) Emergency preparedness and contingency planning, (16) Current challenges
(8) Extension services, (17) Constraints and
(9) compliance/enforcement, (18) Additional information.

 

Participation

The following countries have participated in the survey: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.

Process

The survey questionnaires were based on previous FAO Aquatic Animal Health Capacity and Performance Surveys conducted in other regions that were jointly developed by the FAO Aquaculture Service and the SPC Aquaculture Section, and were modified to reflect the Pacific’s regional situation. The surveys have been completed by national competent authorities and/or other senior government officers, with the assistance of national aquaculture experts and concerned laboratory personnel.

 Main conclusions of the survey

– International trade in live aquatic animals and national border controls

  1.  Most Pacific countries have strong international memberships (e.g., SPC, FAO, OIE, WTO). But international obligations to the OIE and the WTO on trading standards for live aquatic animals are not always met. Therefore, we should note that there is limited compliance with international obligations and international standards in general.
  2. Regarding current legislation on aquatic biosecurity and aquatic animal health, it should be mentioned that most countries have some type of legal framework to deal with these issues, but legislation is very variable, quite messy, not accurate and updated and enforcement is relatively limited.
  3. Regarding trade in aquatic animals and use of health certification

For exports:

Limited export of live aquatic animals (small quantities devoted to the ornamental market, apart from a few exceptions such as New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

Record keeping is extremely poor.

Data should be systematically collected and stored (accurate and complete data).

For health certification:

Health certificates templates are used in most countries and some countries are able to certify based on OIE standards.

Other countries certify on general health (based on gross clinic signs), which as limited value.

For imports:

Live aquatic animals’ importations are relatively important in certain countries 9as an example, some recent species imported to PICTs are white leg shrimp, blue shrimp, seaweeds, sandfish, tilapia, etc).

These species are imported from very variable sources within and outside the region.

Health guarantees during importations range from excellent to non-existent.

PICTS should request to export countries/facilities to have health certificates based on OIE standards.

More data collection and record keeping is needed; there is no historical data.

Development of import risk analysis for live aquatic species is relatively recent, and it hasn’t been done in the past. It should be noted the limited use of IRAs in previous introductions.

Certain countries apply certain risk management measures, such as border control, quarantine, veterinary inspection, SPF stocks, use of authorized species, etc.

IRAs should be promoted prior any importation, and contain pathogen-related risks, environmental, ecological and socio-economic risks.

– Control of domestic movement of live aquatic animals and other domestic activities that may spread pathogens

These movements are not regulated in most countries, although they are relatively important (between different country zones, outer islands and mainland, etc). There is neither current control of pathogens nor existence of contingency plans for domestic movements.

– Policy and planning

In most countries there are various agencies dealing with aquatic animal health; distribution of roles and responsibilities is unclear. There are no national plans on aquatic animal health management or aquatic biosecurity, aquatic animal health is considered under different legal frameworks and policies depending on the country. Enforcement is extremely limited due to limited resources at all levels. Country priorities for policy planning are: (1) infrastructures; (2) human resources; (3) legislation; (4) biosecurity; (5) diagnosis and survey; (6) awareness and communication strategies; and (7) budget. A clear and simple legislation on aquatic animal health would be desirable.

– Legislation

Most countries have legal frameworks dealing with aquatic animal health, but these frameworks are not specific and they are in urgent need of major reviews – not updated, not complete and complicated.

– Disease surveillance/and monitoring

Disease surveillance strategies and/or programmes are generally absent or very poor, also for general or passive surveillance. In the case were there are some strategies in place, these don’t meet OIE criteria. In countries were passive or general surveillance is implemented by field officers/fisheries officers, reporting and communication mechanisms should be improved, in order to be more efficient when there is a suspicion of a relevant disease.

– Disease diagnostics

Very few countries with capacity to diagnose aquatic animal diseases, not even OIE-listed diseases. There are very limited infrastructures and capacities at all levels (limited knowledge and skills on diseases diagnosis).

There are no accredited laboratories, and only 1 of the countries within the region has a list of relevant diseases – National pathogen list (New Caledonia, where the list has been adopted from the OIE list). The National list of pathogens should be based on OIE criteria, such as: presence or absence of the disease or pathogen in the importing country; pathogenicity; infectious etiology; and adverse socio-economic, public health or ecological impacts. A regional laboratory for aquatic animal health could be a possible solution, since most countries have occasional need of diagnostic services. Alternatively, expert laboratories from abroad could be used. To conclude, a regional pathogen list and a regional laboratory of reference for aquatic animal health should be considered.

– Emergency preparedness and contingency planning

Contingency planning for aquatic animal diseases outbreaks has not been considered in any country within the region. Individual PICTs with significant aquaculture industries should develop a plan for key cultured species and diseases.

– Extension services

Most countries have fisheries/aquaculture officers based in the field or in outer islands who play the role of extension services, but roles and responsibilities with regards to aquatic animal health and aquatic biosecurity of those officers is not clear in most cases. It has been noted that the aquaculture sector should have its own extension services and that these services should monitor basic health conditions of farmed stocks and provide the information for passive disease surveillance.

– Compliance/enforcement

Most countries have compliance services that monitor and enforce international and domestic trad in live aquatic animals, including aquatic animal health regulations. Border control is relatively developed in most countries, for export and import of live aquatic animals. Enforcement of domestic regulations on aquatic animal health is relatively limited (regarding use of veterinary drugs, control of domestic movements, etc). Development of best management practises for certain species by aquaculture producer groups can be an efficient mechanism for self-enforcement.

– Research

Limited research is conducted within the region on aquatic animal health, and information on existing research programmes is scattered and limited. Targeted and basic research should be strongly promoted and developed. Currently, the region relies on other nations and experts from abroad to carry out scientific research. A regional approach should be considered (laboratories, universities, research centres – can be shared among nations within the region).

– Training

Post-graduate and formal non-degree training in aquatic animal health is only available in Fiji. There are very limited opportunities at this respect.

– Expertise

Currently, the region relies on other nations and experts from abroad to carry out scientific research. A regional approach should be considered (laboratories, universities, research centres – can be shared among nations within the region).

– Infrastructure

Infrastructures devoted to aquaculture development exist in most countries, but there are very few infrastructures devoted to aquatic animal health or aquatic biosecurity. Sharing facilities, research centres, laboratories, etc, between countries within the region (also with neighbouring countries outside the region) could be a feasible option to improve aquatic animal health management. On the other hand, sharing facilities and laboratories with “other” services at country level, such as veterinary services, university, extension services, food safety services, etc, could be an option.

– Linkages and cooperation

International linkages and cooperation are relatively limited, apart from the linkages with the OIE, SPC, or the WTO. There are no strong domestic linkages either. International linkages have great potential for cooperation in many areas, such as developing standardized procedures for import/export of live aquatic animals, harmonizing legislation, developing shared communication structures (websites, newsletters), developing a regional aquatic animal health information system (pathogen database, regional disease diagnostic and extension manuals), linking experts (expert database and developing cooperative research programmes.

– Funding support

National domestic funding is limited, inadequate and inexistent in most cases. There is no devoted budget for aquatic animal health in most countries.

– Current challenges

Regarding preventing exotic pathogen entry and spread, these include:

  • Lack of human capacity (e.g. diagnostics, quarantine).
  • Lack of infrastructure.
  • Lack of national instruments.
  • Lack of quarantine facilities and procedures.
  • Lack of baseline information (surveillance and surveys).
  • Lack of budget.

Regarding preventing domestic pathogen spread, these include:

  • Lack of monitoring programmes.
  • Lack of baseline information (surveillance and surveys).
  • Lack of human capacity (e.g. diagnostics, quarantine).
  • Lack of enforcement.
  • Lack of awareness.
  • Lack of national instruments.
  • Lack of budget.

Regarding meeting international and trading-partner standards for health certification, these include:

  • Lack of capacity (training, diagnostics).
  • Lack of membership in OIE, WTO, etc.
  • Lack of infrastructure (e.g. for research).
  • Non-observance of standard health certification.
  • Lack of appropriate legislation.
  • Lack of budget.

Controlling mortalities and losses due to pathogens in aquaculture facilities, these include:

  • Lack of capacity (qualified staff, risk assessment, diagnostics, baseline knowledge, etc.).
  • Lack of emergency preparedness and disease control plans.
  • Lack of farm-level treatment and prevention.
  • Lack of infrastructure (e.g. for research).
  • Lack of budget.

Regarding serious challenges likely to arise in the next five years, these include:

  • Low awareness of importance of biosecurity at both farm & regulatory government levels.
  • Lack of proper training (e.g. qualified vets for certification, diagnostics).
  • Lack of infrastructure (e.g. quarantine).
  • Insufficient funding support.
  • Lack of interest and support/commitment and initiatives to establish an aquatic animal health program.

Current challenges to improving aquatic animal health capacity in PICTs touch on almost all major areas of a national aquatic animal health strategy.  These include the need for:

  • Improved policy & planning.
  • Improved specialist expertise.
  • Specialized infrastructure for diagnostics and quarantine.
  • Better monitoring and control.
  • Improved diagnostics techniques.
  • Improved legislation.
  • Better extension programmes.

 –  Constraints

  • Lack of dedicated funding.
  • Lack of specific policy.
  • Lack of dedicated infrastructure.
  • Lack of capacity.
  • Lack of appropriate legislation.
  • Lack of enforcement.
  • Lack of public awareness.
  • Lack of coordination between agencies.

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