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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fish-health-inspectorate-reports-2015/fhi-quarterly-report-1-january-to-31-march-2015
1. Finfish and shellfish health
The trends for this quarter show that the Fish Health Inspectorate has completed 32% of compliance visits scheduled for fin fish farms, 16% of scheduled coldwater trade importer inspections and 12% of Regulation 23 isolation site visits. As far as disease surveillance inspections on fish farms are concerned, monitoring for VHS, IHN and Gyrodactylus salaris is 40% completed, with a total of 77 visits undertaken so far for 2015. As this is a temperature dependent programme the remainder of the inspections will be completed during early spring and the autumn.
All shellfish compliance and surveillance inspection visits have been programmed for 2015 with the majority to be undertaken between late spring and late autumn when the water temperatures are in the correct range for the detection of Bonamia ostreae and Marteilia refringens. Inspections of sites farming Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas in the oyster herpesvirus OsHV-1 µvar infected areas and adjacent surveillance zones will take place during summer when ambient water temperatures are at their maximum and when clinical expression of disease is most likely to be seen.
Substantial progress has been made in the development of an electronic visit paperwork submission project using tablet technology. This will remove the need for Inspectors to complete paperwork on farm inspections and so reduced the length of visits, and the impact on farmers. Field testing is currently underway, with very positive results to date. The final stage of this development is the interface between the mobile device and the Starfish database which stores and manages all of the data collected by Inspectors in the field. This will enable the exchange of data between the tablet and the database and the officer in the field and the laboratory.
The Environment Agency’s new live fish movement scheme was introduced in January with the enactment of The Keeping and Introduction of Fish (England and River Esk Catchment Area) Regulations 2015. This legislation replaced the previous controls under Section 30 of the 1975 Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act. As a consequence of the introduction of this new legislation the FHI Aquatic Trade and Technical Advice (ATTA) team has experienced a 53% increase in registration applications and amendments to registered sites as compared with the same period in 2014. The ATTA team has worked in close collaboration with colleagues in the Environment Agency to minimise the disruption to stakeholders arising from the new permitting scheme.
In February the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) conducted a fact finding mission to the UK on finfish aquaculture. This comprised a part of a series of nine missions to EU member states and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states to examine the constraints on the development of aquaculture in the EU. As the UK was subject to an FVO audit in 2010 on aquatic animal health, the aim of this mission was primarily to focus on the food chain, the use of veterinary medicines, and labelling. An opening meeting held at Defra headquarters and attended by officials from a variety of Government Departments, Agencies and Local Authorities was followed by a visit to the Cefas Weymouth laboratory and a series of fact finding inspections to fish farms, a veterinary practice, and to Billingsgate Fish Market. Fish Health Inspectors accompanied the FVO audit team throughout the programme in England. The second week of the mission focussed on aquaculture in Scotland where fish farms, processing plants, and a feed mill were visited. An FVO report on finfish aquaculture will be published when all of the fact finding missions have been completed.
2. Disease investigations – Finfish
A review of the KHV disease sentinel fish programme was undertaken by Cefas epidemiologists using data accumulated since the programme was introduced in 2010. This thorough review concluded that the use of sentinel fish provided little additional confidence as compared with an inspection only programme in demonstrating freedom from infection and there would be minimal risk of further spread of KHV disease. As a result of the study the Defra policy lead has agreed that the use of sentinel fish will be phased out and replaced by a four year inspection only programme. A report on the epidemiology study is in preparation for publication in Finfish News, as is a paper for peer reviewed publication.
The FHI has supported a detailed field based study by Cefas epidemiologists into puffy skin which targets a number of fish farms that have experienced the condition over recent years. Sampling has been undertaken on a monthly basis in order to gain an understanding of the progression of the condition in populations of farmed fish.
3. Disease investigations – Shellfish
Work on scallop mortality in Lyme Bay is continuing with new evidence presented that an intra-nuclear organism identified within tissue has been provisionally identified as a gammaproteobacteria. This is a wide class of bacteria which includes orders that are of medical, veterinary, plant health and environmental importance. The genome of this organism has been fully sequenced and published. Collaboration on scallop mortalities is planned with colleagues in Spain, New Zealand and possibly the USA. The mortality had been previously attributed to the presence of a rickettsia – like organism, and possibly with the presence of a coccidian parasite in the adductor muscle.
Following the detection of Haplosporidium nelsoni in farmed Pacific oysters (the causative agent of the condition previously known as MSX (multinucleate sphere X) disease) further work is underway using archived samples collected by the FHI to assess the distribution of the parasite in England and Wales.
3.1 Breakdown of fish activities
|Compliance visits to authorised APBs||131|
|Routine disease inspections||118|
|Surveillance or sample on suspicion of notifiable disease||0|
|Visits resulting from confirmation of notifiable disease||0|
3.2 Breakdown of shellfish activities
|Compliance visits to authorised aquaculture production businesses||3|
|Routine disease inspections||2|
|Surveillance on suspicion of notifiable disease||2|
4. Investigations and enforcement
The Biosecurity Border Campaign is an initiative instigated and taken forward by Defra in coordination with UK Border Force (UKBF). As a part of this initiative the FHI undertook awareness training for frontline UKBF staff at the main points of entry for vehicular traffic into the UK. Awareness and training sessions were completed at Dover, Poole, Harwich and Hull with over 70 UKBF officers attending the training.
The awareness training has already yielded positive results with an increased exchange of intelligence and an interception of an illegal import of coldwater ornamental fish through Harwich that was identified by a UKBF officer.
Following the outbreak of oyster herpesvirus OsHV-1 µvar in the River Crouch, the epidemiological evidence implicated movements of live shellfish as the likely route of introduction of disease. Examination of movement records demonstrated that live Pacific oysters had been introduced into a purification plant on a number of occasions from a source in the River Blackwater Confirmed Designation area. These movements were illegal under the conditions of the CD, and as a result of this evidence, the supplier and the recipient of the oysters were subsequently interviewed under caution. Case paperwork was prepared and was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The FHI has obtained a new database for the storage, and management of intelligence. This database will improve the capability of the FHI to identify potential breaches of aquatic animal health legislation, and other criminal activity, and facilitate better exchange of information with other Government Agencies. Two members of the FHI will be trained in intelligence handling by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) Intelligence Manager.
The Molluscan Shellfish (Control of Deposit) Order 1974 and the Molluscan Shellfish (Control of Deposit) (Variation) Order 1983 which were superseded by the Council Directive 91/67/EC enacted in 1992 were removed from the statute books as a part of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge.
4.1 Breakdown of investigations and enforcement activities
|Advice and warning letters issued||12|
5. Advice and representation
The shellfish health lead in the FHI Michael Gubbins attended the National Reference Laboratories for molluscan diseases annual meeting in Saintes, France, where he delivered the UK epidemiological summary of shellfish diseases for 2014. In addition a Cefas histologist presented on the identification of H. nelsoni in England, and attended workshops on diagnostic techniques for the identification of marine Vibrio sp. and oyster herpesvirus OsHV-1 µvar.
Kevin Denham attended the first European Network Meeting: Aquaculture and Fish Health and Fish Welfare organised by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and attended by representatives from Northern European countries with significant aquaculture industries. Kevin presented on the status and challenges concerning fish health and fish welfare in England and Wales. It was proposed that this networking event should be held annually. The Republic of Ireland volunteered to host the next networking meeting in 2016.
Alasdair Scott, Senior Fish Health Inspector, has assisted in resolving a number of trade issues with regard to live aquatic animals including the provision of advice to official services in Northern Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and Turkey. He also attended a meeting between Defra officials and representatives from the Republic of Korea where he presented on the national disease status for VHS and the health conditions required for trade in susceptible species into the EU.
The FHI is responsible for the collection and collation of aquaculture production data for England and Wales. This data is combined with that from the devolved administrations and submitted on an annual basis to the European Commission for publication on the Eurostat website. In addition a summary of aquaculture production statistics for the UK was published.
The Defra annual stakeholder meeting was held at the Cefas Weymouth laboratory on 25 March 2015. The meeting was attended by officials from Defra, Welsh Government, Scottish Government, DARDNI, and the States of Jersey, the Environment Agency, VMD and the Fish Health Inspectorates. Stakeholder representation included the BTA, OATA, SAGB and Skretting feed company.
The Director of Service Delivery and the Director for Resilience and Corporate Services, APHA visited the Weymouth laboratory in January. This proved to be a useful visit in identifying a number of areas of common interest between the FHI and APHA not least being support in disease outbreaks. The Director of Service Delivery undertook to arrange a meeting of heads of Inspectorates where areas of mutual co-operation can be taken forward.
Fish Health Inspectors have attended trade shows in Lancashire, Essex and Surrey where information on fish diseases, biosecurity and non-native species was distributed.
A joint Inspectorates meeting was held in the Marine Scotland Science laboratory in Aberdeen at the end of March. The meeting was attended by the Cefas FHI management team and senior Inspectors from MSS. A number of key areas of common interest were discussed including engagement with the new animal health regulation negotiations, disease controls, border interests and the re-drafting of TARP Regulations by Scottish Government. In addition the new Starfish database and the electronic paperwork submission by tablet were demonstrated. These meetings are important in ensuring a consistency of approach across the UK in relation to aquatic animal health controls, and also meet commitments documented in the UK’s multi-annual national control plan.
6. Service charter
Below is a breakdown of our performance against targets our service charter.
|Telephone enquiries received||695|
|Visitors to Gov.uk website||11,073|
|Movement document applications||90 (100% achieved)|
|Fishery and AAH registrations||188 (100% achieved)|
|Test results and visit only letters||327 (95% achieved)|
|Overall compliance rate within target||99%|
A full breakdown of the FHI’s performance under the service charter is available in [Issue 15 of Finfish News] (http://www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/publications/finfishnews/FFN15.pdf).
The total number of aquatic trade consignments imported into England and Wales from other EU countries in the last quarter was 1134. The breakdown is as follows:
|Isle of Man||4|
The total number of aquatic trade consignments exported from England and Wales to countries in the EU in the last quarter was 110. The breakdown is as follows:
8. Next quarter
- Completion of the spring SVC programme
- Commencement of the KHV Sentinel Programme
- Implementation of cross agency intelligence gathering system.