OIE Global Conference on Aquatic Animal Health: collaboration key to overcoming challenges

More than 250 people representing 90 countries participated in the OIE Global Conference on Aquatic Animal Health, which was held in Santiago, Chile, 2 to 4 April 2019. The event highlighted the multiple opportunities for continued growth that the aquaculture sector has available to it and the need for collaboration between decision-makers, aquatic animal health professionals, and other partners for assuring its safe and sustainable development.

There is a growing demand for fish and seafood, but aquatic animal diseases threaten to limit production.

“Unfortunately, the rise of aquatic animal production, particularly through intensification of aquaculture and trade presents serious challenges,” said Dr Mark Schipp, President of the OIE World Assembly of Delegates. “These include increased local, regional and global exposure to the risk of disease emergence and spread. Protecting our valuable aquaculture and fisheries commodities, and the environment that supports them, requires rapid advancement and implementation of management practices to combat this risk. The transnational spread of aquatic animal diseases is a serious issue that has devastated aquatic animal production in many countries, and the OIE standards aim to reduce these risks substantially.”

During the event, participants had the opportunity to discuss improved approaches to emerging disease response, best biosecurity practices, strategies to reduce the use of antimicrobial agents, and the importance of implementing the OIE international Standards. A series of recommendations were released at the end of the meeting that will be submitted to the OIE World Assembly in May 2019, for endorsement.

These recommendations notably urge the Members to:
• Take steps to improve compliance with the OIE Standards, notably surveillance and early detection; notification to the OIE of aquatic animal diseases; and the prevention and control of pathogenic agents in aquatic animals
• Implement biosecurity measures to mitigate the risk of the introduction or release from the aquaculture establishment
• Ensure transparent, timely and consistent notification of all OIE listed disease and emerging disease to the OIE through WAHIS to support other Countries in taking appropriate action to prevent the transboundary spread of important diseases of aquatic animals
• Ensure that the OIE Standards and guidelines for responsible and prudent use of antimicrobial agents are respected at the country level and promote advances in disease management to reduce the need for antimicrobials

For more information, see: Broadcast and video interviews from the conference