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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fish-health-inspectorate-reports-2016/fhi-quarterly-report-1-april-to-30-june-2016
1. Finfish and shellfish health
Increasing water temperatures during spring requires the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) to change its disease focus from surveillance for coldwater diseases that typically affect salmonid species - such as viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) and infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) - to programmes for diseases that show at higher water temperatures - such as spring viraemia of carp (SVC) and koi herpesvirus (KHV) disease.
To date the surveillance programme for SVC is 84% complete, the programmes for VHS, IHN and Gyrodactylus salaris are 59% complete, and monitoring for Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) disease on fish farms is 52% complete.
Progress with compliance inspection programmes (that is inspections to ensure that businesses are operating in accordance with legal requirements) has been good. The FHI has completed 65% of compliance visits for finfish farms, 68% of scheduled coldwater trade importer inspections, and 59% of inspections on sites that maintain isolation facilities for imported coldwater fish. These programmes are on target to be completed by the end of the calendar year.
The FHI is yet to commence shellfish surveillance and compliance inspections for shellfish farms. The three diseases of concern - Bonamia ostrea, Marteilia refringens and oyster herpesvirus microvariant (OsHV-1 µvar) - are seasonal in nature and are temperature dependent. The FHI will start the surveillance programmes in the 3rd quarter of 2016.
In March 2016 the FHI successfully launched the FHI iPAD - an electronic system for collecting farm inspection data in the field. This quarter all inspection visits used this technology, eliminating all use of paperwork during inspections. Real time data is now exchanged between the inspector, the operations team, and the Starfish database. Stakeholders now receive a more effective and efficient service. The last feature – diagnostic sample data reporting - will be released for use during the next quarter.
The ‘Fish Diseases Alerts’ application, another technology development, is nearing the end of testing and will be released next quarter. This application automatically finds stakeholders within the proximity of a disease outbreak and sends them an electronic alert.
2. Disease investigations – Finfish
In June the FHI investigated a reported disease outbreak of common carp at a further education college in Bedfordshire, after concerns were raised about mortalities of common carp in their recirculation aquaculture systems. Tests confirmed KHV disease, so the remaining stock was culled, the facilities were disinfected and are now fallow.
As water temperatures rose in June, the FHI received numerous reports of common carp mortalities in fisheries. KHV disease was detected at Brockamin Fisheries (Worcestershire), Larford Lakes, (Worcestershire), and Bain Valley Fishery (Lincolnshire). All are now subject to containment restrictions through the application of confirmed designations.
These KHV disease outbreaks were earlier than we have experienced in previous years. Whilst water temperatures this year were not exceptional as compared with the recent past, a combination of a series of thunderstorms and low fluctuation in the daily temperature range may have created suitable conditions for the expression of disease.
The FHI has greatly improved stakeholder engagement over recent years, through social media and event attendance. This year we have noticed a large increase in numbers of direct reports received about fish mortalities. One example was intelligence, through Facebook, that a member of the public found dead and dying fish at a major ornamental fish wholesaler and retailer outlet in London. KHV disease was confirmed and the facilities were culled and disinfected.
3. Disease investigations – Shellfish
The FHI continues to investigate the occurrence of haplosporidian parasites in stocks of farmed shellfish. Testing of farmed stocks has identified the presence of Haplosporidium costale, and what appears to be another, as yet uncharacterised species, Haplosporidium sp. At this stage it is not known whether the shellfish are harbouring infections or are bioaccumulating the parasites due to their method of feeding. Further tests are planned on positive material to demonstrate the location of the parasites within the host, and confirm whether there is genuine infection.
There was a serious mortality of white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) on an upper stretch of the River Wensum, Norfolk. Samples were taken from dead animals submitted by the Environment Agency (EA). Diagnostic tests were run which found they were positive for crayfish plague. Troublingly it shows a clear upstream spread of infection, which is a serious threat to the continued existence of native crayfish on this river system.
Following the illegal release of American lobsters (Homarus americanus) into the English Channel in 2015, fishermen continue to catch the occasional individual. A female carrying eggs was submitted to the FHI in May. This is of interest in establishing the potential for this species to become invasive. Work is underway at Cefas to establish whether the eggs are viable, and whether they are true American lobsters or hybrids of the native lobster.
3.1 Breakdown of fish activities
|Compliance visits to authorised APBs||171|
|Routine disease inspections||162|
|Surveillance or sample on suspicion of notifiable disease||43|
|Visits resulting from confirmation of notifiable disease||50|
3.2 Breakdown of shellfish activities
|Compliance visits to authorised APBs||3|
|Routine disease inspections||0|
|Surveillance on suspicion of notifiable disease||1|
|Visits resulting from confirmation of notifiable disease||0|
4. Investigations and enforcement
A series of inspections were undertaken by the FHI and UK Border Force at the port of Dover due to intelligence received. Shipments from the Czech Republic were inspected. Consignments were confiscated from two companies as they were found without appropriate health certification and with non-native species of aquatic animals. The FHI informed authorities in the Republic of Ireland and Scotland, as some were consigned to those destinations. These illegal imports were raised with authorities in the Czech Republic who have put steps in place to prevent it happening again.
The second phase of the joint investigation into illegal fishing activity on the south coast is now complete, following a further inspection of a major fish and shellfish dealer. The FHI continues to work with IFCA officers on illegal fishing activity.
A warning letter was issued to a fishery manager after common carp were introduced into a managed fishery subject to a confirmed designation. The site failed to obtain permission from the FHI. Administration processes have been changed to ensure that Environment Agency permits are varied on waters subject to confirmed designation.
The FHI supported the Angling Trust by delivering presentations at 8 workshops for their Fisheries Enforcement programme. Future Voluntary Bailiff Scheme workshops, which are already oversubscribed, will be run in autumn 2016. These events also help the FHI publicise information on aquatic diseases to stakeholders.
The FHI seized shipments of genetically modified ornamental fish on behalf of the GM Inspectorate. Seizures of fish and crayfish imported into Great Britain in contravention of orders were also made under the Import of Live Fish Act 1980.
4.1 Breakdown of investigations and enforcement activities
|Regulation notices (Trade)||19|
|Advice and warning letters issued||9|
5. Advice and representation
Angela Trent, the FHI Operations Manager, represented the UK at the 20th annual meeting of the National Reference Laboratories for fish diseases held in Copenhagen in May. A theme of the meeting was the perceived impact of infectious fish diseases in European Aquaculture.
Angela also represents the UK at the aquatics section of the European Union’s OIE coordination working group meetings. This forum is important in establishing common standards of disease surveillance and diagnosis across the EU. It also contributes to the world standards established by the International Animal Health Organisation (OIE). She took the opportunity to progress the EU position on the recent evidence of lumpfish’s (Cyclopterus lumpus) susceptibility to VHS. This is important to the UK as lumpfish are increasingly used as cleaner fish in salmon aquaculture.
Defra held the annual stakeholders’ meeting in London on 18 May. It was attended by representatives of industry trade bodies, the devolved administrations, the FHI, and Defra. Nick Stinton presented an update on FHI activities in 2015, and Alasdair Scott presented on progress with the new animal health regulation.
Mike Gubbins attended the Shellfish Association of Great Britain’s (SAGB) Mollusc Committee in London on 21 April. He also presented information on the long history of cockle mortality events in the Burry Inlet, South Wales, at a meeting between the Minister of State George Eustice and the local MP Byron Davies.
Nick Stinton and Niall O’Rahelly attended the annual meeting of the British Koi Keepers Society in June. They talked with dealers and hobbyists, and presented on fish diseases, biosecurity and husbandry.
6. Customer Surveys
The FHI want to provide all of our customers with excellent service. To check this, regular feedback is requested by using 3 different surveys:
- Customer Thermometer is a monthly customer feedback gathering online survey. The FHI use this to target customers visited by our inspectors during the preceding month. Feedback from customers is on a 1 to 4 scale (1: Bad / 4: Excellent) and allow operators to provide additional comments.
- A paper survey is sent to operators who don’t respond to the electronic survey or who don’t have email addresses. These surveys are undertaken in July and December.
- The FHI’s ATTA team use an email survey method to get feedback on advice. This is added as an email signature and has four buttons: ranging from “Excellent” to “Bad”. Customers can also provide comments.
Negative feedback and complaints from any of these surveys is followed up on receipt, following the FHI’s Service Charter. Survey results form part of the key performance indicators and are presented at FHI and Cefas monthly management team meetings.
6.1 Customer Thermometer – April to June
6.2 Email survey – April to June
7. Service charter
Below is a breakdown of our performance against targets in our service charter.
|Telephone enquiries received||754|
|Visitors to GOV.UK website||11,371|
|Movement document applications||67|
|Fishery and AAH registrations||197 (99% achieved)|
|Test results and visit only letters||93 (93% achieved)|
|Overall compliance rate within target||98%|
A full breakdown of the FHI’s performance under the service charter is available in Finfish News.
The total number of aquatic trade consignments imported into England and Wales from other EU countries in the last quarter was 161. The breakdown is as follows:
The total number of aquatic trade consignments exported from England and Wales to countries in the EU in the last quarter was 96. The breakdown is as follows:
|Isle of Man||1|
9. Next quarter
- Conclusion of the KHV sentinel programme.
- Submission of diagnostic data by inspectors using FHI iPAD