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USA - Commercial Aquaculture Health Code Model Standards for Commercial Aquaculture

The CAHC will help better position commercial producers in the trade markets, domestic and international, and help the commercial aquaculture industry demonstrate adherence to sound practices for aquatic animal health.

June 6, 2014

At the request of the National Aquaculture Association (NAA), Veterinary Services is collaborating to draft a US Commercial Aquaculture Health Code (CAHC) Model Standards for Commercial Aquaculture. This is an effort initiated by representatives from the NAA and is consistent with USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) initiatives to utilize non-regulatory approaches when appropriate to address animal health issues.

The proposed US CAHC aligns with and helps to further implement the National Aquatic Animal Health Plan (NAAHP). It follows the approach of the OIE Code of Aquatic Animal Health, and seeks to clarify and interpret components most relevant to US commercial aquaculture. The CAHC will help better position commercial producers in the trade markets, domestic and international, and help the commercial aquaculture industry demonstrate adherence to sound practices for aquatic animal health.

Commercial Aquaculture Defined

In the CAHC, Commercial Aquaculture is the business of farming aquatic animals for sale or trade, with some level of intervention in the rearing or farming process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc.

Initial Steps

The CAHC is currently a work-in-progress. It is being developed collaboratively with industry representatives from commercial aquaculture (NAA appointed Aquatic Animal Health Task Force members) and USDA Veterinary Services subject matter experts. An initial draft is expected by late summer 2014.

Next Steps

US CAHC is intended to be a framework under which species-specific Model Standards eventually will be developed. The model standards will focus in detail on effective biosecurity, surveillance, zonation, and compartmentalization approaches. Long term, the CAHC may support a national infrastructure for aquatic animal health in commercial settings in the United States.

Gathering input on these model standards will occur in phases.  Members of the NAA Aquatic Animal Health Task Force will act as ambassadors for the Code initially among industry groups to develop a final document that will be made available for further review and input. Veterinary Services will work with NAAHP Federal partners–US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA)–to ensure compatibility with the NAAHP.VS also will consider how the CAHC will be implemented. Finally, the document will be made available to States, Tribes, and other stakeholders for input.


For further information, please contact Jim Parsons.

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