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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fish-health-inspectorate-enforcement/fish-health-inspectorate-enforcement-strategy
This document outlines the Fish Health Inspectorate’s (FHI) enforcement strategy and strategic objectives for 3 years from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017. The document will be reviewed annually by the FHI.
The FHI (as part of the Centre for Environment Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas)) is an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and is the official service for the control of serious diseases in aquatic animals in England and Wales.
The FHI is the national regulator in England and Wales, responsible for aquatic animal health by implementing The Aquatic Animal Health Directive (Council Directive 2006/88/EC). We are committed to protecting, enhancing and improving aquatic animal health.
The FHI’s main objectives are to prevent the introduction and spread of serious fish and shellfish diseases. We achieve this by:
- implementing and managing risk based aquatic animal health surveillance programmes
- assessing the incidence, prevalence and significance of diseases
- undertaking disease prevention and eradication measures
- applying controls to stop the import and spread of disease
- investigating unexplained mortalities
- advising on appropriate biosecurity and disease mitigation measures
- enforcing non-compliance with legislative requirements
This document sets out our policy on legislative compliance, including the desired outcomes and the principles guiding our regulatory activities. We will advise and support the industry as a whole to comply with legislation, carry out our regulatory role in a proportionate and effective way, and ensure it is in line with the provisions of the Regulators’ Code.
We will fully consider the level of risk in carrying out our regulatory activities and the impact on growth as required in the Enterprise Bill. We recognize that the best way to achieve compliance is by providing clear advice and guidance to our stakeholders. We will ensure that excessive regulatory burden is avoided but that all stakeholders are made fully aware of the consequences of non- compliance; both from an environmental and legal perspective.
In seeking to achieve compliance with the legislative framework, we work in close partnership with businesses, trade organisations, individual stakeholders and also partner agencies. This is to remain efficient and effective in our work and achieve our mutual goals. We are also responsive to changes in legislation, to changes in Defra policy on aquatic animal health and to guidance and instruction from central government.
The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 requires regulators to have regard to the principles of good regulation when exercising its regulatory function. The Regulators’ code has a statutory basis under the above act. The FHI’s enforcement policies and practices are all in line with the intentions of the code. We take a risk-based approach to enforcement, provide advice and guidance to assist businesses and other regulated bodies in understanding their responsibilities, and take proportionate enforcement decisions.
In accordance with the Regulators’ Code we will always strive to exercise our regulatory powers in a way that is:
- proportionate – taking into account the risks caused by any non-compliance. The FHI’s regulatory remit covers areas where non-compliance can result in a greatly increased risk to the health of our native aquatic animals and aquaculture industry
- accountable – the FHI is accountable to the industry and individuals that it regulates. Our activities are open to public scrutiny in the form of clear and accessible policies
- consistent – the FHI always strives to achieve consistency through training and quality assurance of our staff, open dialogue with stakeholders and partners, regular review of our standard operating procedures and analysis of our Key Performance Indicators
- transparent – we produce clear and simple guidance for the industry that we regulate to make them aware of their obligations. The consequences of non-compliance are made clear
- targeted - we will focus our enforcement resources on higher risk activities using available intelligence in our decision making processes
Where there is a need for the FHI to share information and intelligence with other agencies, the FHI will follow the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1988.
3.1 Growth Duty
The FHI exercise their regulatory functions taking in to account the economic impact that our actions are likely to have on individual business.
The Growth Duty means that we will always strive to minimize any negative economic impact our regulatory work may have, and where necessary, adapt the way in which we carry out our duties. We will demonstrate our regard for the growth duty by:
- keeping the burden on business productivity to a minimum
- being proportionate in our decision making
- understanding the business environment that we regulate
The FHI is empowered under European and national legislation covering aquatic animal health. In addition the FHI is also empowered to act under other legislation on the control of non-native species, veterinary medicines, and genetically modified organisms. Our enforcement remit includes but is not limited to:
- The Aquatic Animal Health (England & Wales) Regulations 2009
- The Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations 2011
- The Alien and Locally Absent Species in Aquaculture (England & Wales) Regulations 2011
- The Import of Live Fish Act 1980
- Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2009
- The Animal and Animal Products (Examination for Residues and Maximum Residue limits) Regulations 1997
- Section 114 and Part V1 (Genetically Modified Organisms) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990
- Regulators’ Code 2013
- Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008
- Defra Enforcement Policy Statement
Under the above legislation the FHI has the power to apply formal enforcement actions.
The FHI recognizes that most business and stakeholders want to comply with the law. We will always try to help those we regulate comply with the regulatory framework.
However, if this approach does not achieve our desired outcome we can and will take preventative action as necessary to protect the health of the wider aquatic animal populations. In this case, more formal action may be appropriate. This might include:
- formal warning letters
- enforcement and improvement notices
- suspension and/or revocation of authorisations
- publication and press release concerning non-compliances
- formal caution
Any enforcement action taken will be proportionate, consistent and transparent.
All FHI objectives are defined with outcomes underpinning them. They are deliverable and measurable.
6.1 Reduce the risk of serious, new and exotic disease being introduced to England and Wales
- tackling the ongoing issue of illegally imported large carp from the continent through increased surveillance at ports
- promote joint working with other Government Agencies, at points of import, such as UK Border Force and the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate
- continue to foster and strengthen relationships with the French Authorities ONCFS, FNPF and the angling representative groups UNCL and CATAC
- use opportunities to link out to contacts in the wider European Union
6.2 To continue to pursue an intelligence led approach to our enforcement activity
- maintain a NIM compliant intelligence database to store and interrogate all received intelligence. This enables us to prioritize and target suspected offenders whose activities pose the greatest threat of spreading serious fish diseases
- promote and support partnership working within England and Wales with other Executive Agencies. Operations Mercury, Silver and Foreman are all ongoing partnership initiatives that have FHI involvement. These initiatives are vital to the flow of intelligence between agencies
6.3 Improve education and guidance outside and inside the FHI
- ensure FHI staff receive ongoing training for all aspects of enforcement work that we undertake
- offer guidance and advice wherever possible to facilitate voluntary compliance with fish and shellfish health regulations when enforcement issues arise
- represent the views of stakeholders when consulted to influence policy makers
- adhere fully to the Defra Enforcement Policy statement