New fish health plan for England and Wales

The government has published a new contingency aquatic animal disease outbreak plan for England and Wales to ensure the UK retains its high health status in this area.

The plan outlines how DEFRA and the Welsh Government, along with its operational partners, respond to outbreaks of aquatic diseases.

They say disease outbreaks such as Viral Haemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis (IHN), can cause aquatic animals to suffer, disrupt trade, damage businesses and the environment, and cost the UK taxpayer significant sums of money.

 The UK currently has high aquatic animal health status and is free from the most serious aquatic animal diseases. There is a shared responsibility between government & industry to ensure that if disease occurs, it is diagnosed early and eradicated.

Aquatic animals generally relates to creatures that live predominantly in different water forms, such as seas, oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, etc. Examples of aquatic animals include fish, jellyfish, sharks, whales, octopus, barnacles, crabs, dolphins, eels, rays, mussels, and so on.

The plan provides for a swift, effective and co-ordinated response to control and eradicate disease, which supports the path to regaining disease-free status, and restoring international trade.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “I am proud of the UK’s high aquatic animal health status, and we are committed to maintaining this internationally recognised footing.

“The plan published today sets out clear steps for industry and government to respond quickly to aquatic disease outbreaks, ensuring the UK remains a world-leading food and farming nation.”

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