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Muhammad Junaid Wattoo

Pakistan’s National Strategy on Aquatic Animal Health

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Introduction

Aquaculture has been experiencing a global trend in transboundary diseases that affect both farmed and wild aquatic species. These diseases emerge, spread rapidly, and cause major production losses approximately every three to five years. However, there is often a long delay between the initial observation of a mortality event caused by an unknown pathogen and the subsequent identification and confirmation of the disease, as well as the implementation of effective risk management measures.

To address this challenge, there is an urgent need to develop a permanent system to prevent and manage diseases of aquatic organisms. Biosecurity measures are a crucial component of disease prevention and management, as the socio-economic impacts of aquatic disease outbreaks can be significant, including losses in production, income, employment, and market access. To address these challenges, it is essential to establish efficient and effective biosecurity strategies that take into account the trade and movement of live animals and products, knowledge of pathogens and their hosts, AAH management, and ecosystem changes.

To ensure that biosecurity measures are cost-effective and proactive, it is crucial to design and apply a holistic national aquaculture biosecurity program. This program should be developed with consideration of global experiences, livestock sector achievements, and bottlenecks, particularly in developing countries. It is also important to reduce the response time following an outbreak, which is a critical step for efficient biosecurity.

Pakistan’s National Strategy on Aquatic Animal Health (NSAAH) has been designed to set goals and take actions to create a comprehensive biosecurity framework. The NSAAH aims to minimize the risk of aquatic animal diseases impacting the sustainable development of aquaculture, with a focus on aquatic biodiversity, food security, food safety, and the national economy. It is emphasized that biosecurity should be in place and parallel to aquaculture development efforts in Pakistan. Ultimately, effective governance and innovation are necessary to support disease prevention and maintain a sustainable aquaculture industry.

Scope

This document serves as the main development plan for the fish health aspects of the three components of Pakistan’s Aquaculture Biosecurity: Official Control, Official Analysis and Official Guarantee. Pakistan’s NAASH consists of 15 Programs and 38 Projects that are to be completed within the indicated timeframe and provides detailed guidance. The FDB Pakistan is the main custodian of this document and is responsible for the implementation of the activities outlined herein in coordination with provincial and area fisheries departments.

Aquaculture and Aquatic Animal Health Policy

Pakistan has no approved policy for aquatic animal health. There will be a need to make some changes in rules of Pakistan Animal Quarantine (Import and Export of Animals and Animal Products) and enact new legislation for aquaculture management at federal and provincial level.

Process of Developing a National Strategy on Aquatic Animal Health for Pakistan           

Fisheries Development Board through inhouse consultation has prepared the zero-draft document for “National Strategy on Aquatic Animal Health for Pakistan”. The consultative process for review and consensus building on the draft document has been initiated. First consultative meeting was held on 14th June 2022 at Lahore, where a large number of stakeholders were present from across Pakistan. The aim of the first meeting was to share the document with stakeholders and brief them on the various components and implementation mechanism proposed under this document.

After adopting comments from stakeholders, some changes to the draft document were made. Now the strategy document is final and is being submitted to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for review and if agreed for approval through federal cabinet.

Statement of Purpose                                                                                                        

The NSAAH Pakistan is aimed to minimize the risk of aquatic animal diseases impacting on the sustainable development of aquaculture, with focus on aquatic biodiversity, food security, food safety and the national economy.

The Program Overview

The activities to be carried out under the NSAAH have been meticulously outlined and structured to ensure efficient and effective implementation. The NSAAH consists of 15 Programs and 38 Projects as sub-activities, which must be completed within a specific timeframe. The programs and projects cover a wide range of aspects related to aquatic animal health, including disease surveillance, control, and management, capacity building, and awareness raising etc., the proposed programs are as follows:

  1. Program 1: Policy, Legislation and enforcement
  2. Program 2: Risk Analysis
  3. Program 3: Pathogen List
  4. Program 4: Border Inspection and Quarantine
  5. Program 5: Diagnostics
  6. Program 6: Farm-level Biosecurity and Health management
  7. Program 7: Chemicals, Veterinary Drugs, Effective Microbes and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in Aquaculture
  8. Program 8: Surveillance, Monitoring and Reporting
  9. Program 9: Communication and Information System
  10. Program 10: Zoning and Compartmentalization
  11. Program 11: Emergency Preparedness and Contingency Planning 34
  12. Program 12: Research and Development 36
  13. Program 13: Institutional Structure (including Infrastructure)
  14. Program 14: Human Resources and Institutional Capacity Development
  15. Program 15: Regional and International Cooperation

NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL STRATEGY ON AQUATIC ANIMAL HEALTH (NSAAH)

PURPOSE

The Committee will provide strategic direction and leadership in the process of implementation and completion of the National Strategy on Aquatic Animal Health for Pakistan (NSAAH-PAK) to ensure Pakistan has a well-defined and guided approach in fish health management. The Committee will also be the main entity responsible for the overview, monitoring and key-decision makings for fish health management in Pakistan.

TERM

The Committee will come into effect/be operative from the official date of launching of the NSAAH and the membership and terms NSAAH will be subject to a review at any appropriate time as determined by the consensus of the Committee.

PROPOSED MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE

Sr. No.MemberPositionResponsibility
Permanent Members
 CEO, FDB ChairpersonTake a lead role in implementing the tasks/ mandates of NSAAH; direct reporting of the outcomes of NSAAH/Working Committee meetings to the Secretary, MNFSR
 CTO, FDBCommittee SecretaryTo organize meetings, record minutes and contribute in agenda setting and discussions
 DAHC/AAHC, MNFSRMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of fisheries program’s planning and development.
 FDC/AFDCMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of fisheries program’s planning and development.
 DG, MFDMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of fisheries program’s planning and development.
 Director, AQDMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of fisheries program’s planning and development.
 DG, Fisheries PunjabMember  Contribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of fisheries program’s planning and development.
 DG, Fisheries SindhMember-do-
 DG, Fisheries BalochistanMember-do-
 DG, Fisheries KPKMember-do-
 Director, Fisheries GBMember-do-
 Director, Fisheries AJKMember-do-
    
Need based members
 DG, NVLMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of the veterinary services.
 In-charge Fisheries Program, NARCMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of the Research bodies
 Representative of EPAMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of the environment management authorities
 Representative of Inspector General Forests, Ministry of Climate ChangeMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of the aquatic endangered animals. 
 Representative of PSQCAMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of the standard bodies
 Representative of Provincial Food AuthoritiesMemberContribute to agenda settings, discussions, and decisions, representing the interests of the general consumers

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The Main Committee will be entrusted to:

  • Develop the agenda, responsibility and estimated timeframe for the preparation, revision, approval and endorsement of the NSAAH.
  • Conduct scheduled meetings and/or other means of communication as deemed appropriate. Ensure the progress and completion of activities/programs that are decided by the committee as integral parts of the NSAAH. 
  • Appoint new or exclude any appointed members based on logical and necessary reasons through a consensus.
  • Appoint Sub-Committee for “Incoming Alien Species Application” (CIASA).
  • Appoint any subgroups/ working groups/ advisory groups /technical groups regarding NSAAH as supporting entities to the committee. 
  • Record and retain information regarding meetings, discussions, progress reports, drafts and any other items that are vital to the NSAAH. 
  • Report and submit documents regarding the details of planning, implementation, and completion of the NSAAH to the Secretary, MNFSR.

Pakistan’s National Pathogen List

Currently Pakistan do not have commercial shrimp arming therefore, all diseases have been reported from fish farming.

  1. Parasitic Diseases           
    1. Gill infection
    2. Lernaeasis
    3. Argulosis or skin infection
    4. Black Spot disease
    5. Gyrodactylosis
    6. Ichthyophthiriusis or White spot disease
  1. Fungal Diseases of Fish
    1. Saprolegniasis
    2. EUS
  1. Bacterial Diseases of Fishes       
    1. Dropsy
    2. Fin Rot
    3. Furunculosis
  1. Viral Diseases
    1. Epizootic haematopoietic necrosis* (EHN)
    2. Infectious haematopoietic necrosis* (IHN)
    3. Oncorhynchus masou virus disease* (OMVD)
    4. Infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN)
    5. Viral encephalopathy and retinopathy (VER)

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