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Guide for Implementing Progressive Biosecurity Management in Aquaculture

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By Milthon Lujan

Progressive Management Pathway for Aquaculture Biosecurity (PMP/AB)
Progressive Management Pathway for Aquaculture Biosecurity (PMP/AB)

Biosecurity is a strategic and integrated approach encompassing policy and regulatory frameworks with the aim of analyzing and managing risks related to human, animal, and plant life and health, including associated environmental risks.

If disease challenges are not properly managed, the aquaculture industry will not be sustainable. The sustainability of the aquaculture sector will be determined by effective governance of biosecurity that can be implemented at all levels (e.g., policy and farm levels).

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Lack of effective national plans and strategies, lack of awareness about the important role of biosecurity, weak adoption of biosecurity, and inadequate collaboration between the public and private sectors hinder the ability to reduce disease incidence and impacts.

In this regard, there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in how disease challenges are managed.

The “Progressive Management Pathway for Aquaculture Biosecurity (PMP/AB)” is an extension of the “Progressive Control Pathways” (PCP) used to control major zoonotic and livestock diseases, adapted for aquaculture.

PMP/AB is an ongoing initiative by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), industry, and academia/research partners.

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The guidance document for the application of PMP/AB outlines the rationale, vision, mission, scope, goals, and benefits of PMP/AB. The guide describes the four stages of PMP/AB, including overall objectives and key outcomes for each stage.

Progressive Biosecurity Management in Aquaculture (PMP/AB)

The Progressive Biosecurity Management pathway in aquaculture (PMP/AB) is built upon existing frameworks, capacity, and appropriate tools, using risk-based approaches and public-private sector partnerships.

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The vision of PMP/AB is to “reduce disease burden by improving biosecurity practices in aquaculture worldwide to support food security and nutrition, social and economic development, resilience, rural livelihoods, food safety and public health, and environmental sustainability of the aquaculture sector.”

The authors hope that progressive biosecurity management in aquaculture will result in:

  • Sustainable reduction of disease burden.
  • Improvement of aquatic health and well-being at the farm, national, and regional levels.
  • Minimization of global disease spread.
  • Attraction of investment opportunities in aquaculture.
  • Alignment with the “One Health” approach goals.

Stages of PMP/AB

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The guide outlines the four stages of PMP/AB:

Defining Biosecurity Risks

Key stakeholders in all aquaculture sectors are identified, and the country’s different aquaculture production systems are described. Key vulnerabilities are identified, which may include threats to biosecurity and aquaculture production, wild populations, ecosystems, or human health.

A conducive environment is developed through cooperation among key stakeholders and the establishment of risk mitigation capacity.

A list of nationally important pathogens and diseases of aquatic organisms is defined, using internationally accepted criteria. The country conducts preliminary risk assessments to prioritize control efforts.

Initiation of Biosecurity Systems

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Attention is focused on initiating risk-based strategies developed in the previous stage, including monitoring the level of implementation and success.

Surveillance is conducted to map the presence/absence of pathogens and diseases of aquatic organisms, assessed by risk and classified as of national interest.

The conducive environment is further developed through strengthened partnerships and enhanced capacity to manage risks at the national level. Based on the assessment of outcomes from monitoring strategies developed in Stage 1, the country will review and further strengthen them.

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Biosecurity Systems and Preparedness Enhancement

Revised strategies for aquatic organism health or aquaculture biosecurity are implemented. In Stage 3, sufficient capacity is developed to support sustainable aquaculture and safeguard the country against nationally listed pathogens and their associated diseases, including those exotic to the country or those emerging or resurging in a population.

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Through surveillance and monitoring systems, evidence is provided that diseases posing the greatest threats to the aquaculture sector are prevented or controlled, and the absence of pathogens is ensured and documented for disease control/certification purposes.

Establishment of Sustainable Biosecurity Systems and Health Management

Strategies for aquatic organism health or aquaculture biosecurity are fully and sustainably implemented.

Stakeholders clearly demonstrate ongoing commitment to support aquatic organism health, human health, and the ecosystem. Evidence of a sustainable and evolving biosecurity system is seen as management practices improve and partnerships mature.

A risk communication mechanism is fully established to ensure transparent and auditable biosecurity implementation for all stakeholders in the aquaculture sector.

The ultimate goal of Stage 4 is to gain the confidence of national and international stakeholders in national aquaculture, enabling sustainable production and safe trade while maintaining ecosystem health.

four stages of PMP/AB
Four stages of PMP/AB

PMP/AB Tools

In addition to the PMP/AB checklist presented in the guide, authors introduce other tools to assist with the initiation and implementation of PMP/AB in countries.

PMP/AB tools include self-assessment questionnaires, guide documents, manuals, e-learning courses, training courses, and other supporting information.

Guides are provided for:

  • Conducting SWOT and gap analysis.
  • Developing a national or regional aquatic organism health strategy.
  • Developing a national list of aquatic pathogens.
  • Risk analysis: value chain, import risk.
  • Passive and active surveillance.
  • Emergency preparedness and response systems.

Conclusion

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“The overall goal of PMP/AB is to guide countries toward achieving sustainable systems of aquatic health management and aquaculture biosecurity through the implementation of progressive and collaborative risk-based processes among enterprises, local, national, regional, and international sectors with strong public and private sector involvement,” conclude the study’s authors.

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They further emphasize: “PMP/AB can serve as a stepping-stone for these countries to gradually enhance the management of aquatic organism health and aquaculture biosecurity over time, by establishing feasible risk-based strategies that are sustainable and consider needs and priorities, resource availability, and technical capacity.”

The guide was funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and FAO’s Regular Programme funds.

Reference (open access):
FAO. 2023. The Progressive Management Pathway for Aquaculture Biosecurity – Guidelines for application. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 689. Rome. https://doi.org/10.4060/cc6858en

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