Aquatic Animal Health Science

Protecting Wild and Farmed Aquatic Species

Preventing the spread of aquatic animal diseases within Canada and guarding against the introduction of serious infectious aquatic animal pathogens (i.e., bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause disease in aquatic animals) is critical to safeguarding the health of Canada’s aquatic resources and maintaining our export markets for fish and seafood products.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) mission is to promote economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries, sustainable aquatic ecosystems, and safe and secure waterways. To accomplish this, DFO provides a wide range of aquatic animal health activities to support the management of our fisheries and aquaculture resources through both regulatory and non-regulatory science programs. These programs address both international aspects of aquatic animal health (under programs like the National Aquatic Animal Health Program), as well as local health concerns of our fishery resources. Specifically, DFO provides scientific knowledge, research, and advice on pathogens to managers in DFO and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to help decision-making.

As part of the ongoing development of the National Aquatic Animal Health Program (NAAHP), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was notified on December 7, 2015 that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will implement the final portion of NAAHP, the Domestic Movement Control Program (DMCP), effective December 31, 2015. Under DMCP, CFIA will enact new measures, such as zonation and permitting, to support domestic movements of aquatic animals. As of this date, DFO will no longer exercise its authority under the FHPR, including the Manual of Compliance, and intends to move forward with the repeal of the FHPR to remove regulatory overlap with the DMCP.

For more information and questions on CFIA’s Domestic Movement Control Program, please visit the CFIA website at Notice to Industry Change to federal management of aquatic disease in Canada.


National Aquatic Animal Health Program

Includes information, research, and surveillance programs on regulated and emerging pathogens that affect finfish, shellfish, and crustaceans.

National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory System

Explains the role of DFO's National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory System to provide quality diagnostics and research and describes the DFO diagnostic and research labs that make up NAAHLS.

Geoduck clam (Panopea abrupta): Anatomy, Histology, Development, Pathology, Parasites and Symbionts

Provides a comprehensive description of Geoduck clam morphology and disease agents that affect the health of this commercially important species on the West Coast of Canada.

Piscine Reo-virus (PRV)

Describes the current scientific knowledge on this emerging pathogen on the West Coast of North America.

Synopsis of Infectious Diseases and Parasites of Commercially Exploited Shellfish

Describes diseases and parasites affecting commercially exploited shellfish species globally. Emphasis is on pathogen/parasite description, host species, geographic distribution, diagnostic techniques, and methods of control.

Sea Lice

Includes information on the various types of sea lice research conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Salmon Enhancement Program (SEP)

Describes the role of this program in Pacific salmon conservation and management and explains the fish health requirements for enhancement hatcheries.

Marine Mammal Health

Includes information on marine mammal population dynamics, their role in marine ecosystems, and the effect of human impacts on marine mammal species.