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Reducing disease risks

In a shared aquatic environment, strong protocols must be in place to minimize the risk of disease, recognize sick fish quickly and treat effectively. The National Aquatic Animal Health Program (NAAHP), delivered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, establishes and enforces protocols for control and management of fish health. The Program is supported by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s internationally recognized national laboratory system that delivers accurate, reliable and consistent test results for disease detection. This capability is strengthened by technology development, targeted research and access to effective treatment options in the event disease outbreaks occur. It provides Canada with a sound scientific foundation to protect its wild and farmed animal populations. This program also supports the certification of exported animals and products.

All cultured finfish must be free of clinical signs of disease before they enter the marine environment. Controlling the spread of disease, disease agents, and parasites, within the site, from one site to another, or from farms to the external environment is achieved through strict biosecurity measures. These may include on-farm biosecurity practices, controlled harvesting methods, or developing area or bay-management systems requiring year-class segregation and the rotation of sites to allow for fallowing. These measures are applied mainly through provincial veterinary and regulatory programs or Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) staff in British Columbia (BC), as well as associated industry Standard Operational Procedures and Codes of Practice.

As the regulator of the aquaculture industry in BC, DFO requires operators of marine finfish facilities to follow a Health Management Plan (HMP) under their  Conditions of Licence for Finfish Aquaculture. These HMPs are designed to encompass all aspects of fish health management in order to minimize the risk of disease, parasites and pathogens to farmed fish and their transfer to wild species. In BC:


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