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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fish-health-inspectorate-reports-2017/fhi-quarterly-report-1-april-to-30-june-2017
1. Finfish and shellfish health
Finfish compliance inspections undertaken for the year to the end of June were on target with 76% completed, a slight increase in the number of inspections completed at this stage of 2016. As far as disease surveillance inspections on salmonid fish farms are concerned, monitoring for VHS, IHN and Gyrodactylus salaris is 83% completed, with a total of 101 visits undertaken so far for 2017. The spring surveillance programme on fish farms holding species susceptible to spring viraemia of carp (SVC) virus came to the end as water temperatures rose above the permissible level for clinical expression of the disease with 89% of inspections completed. The remainder of the surveillance programme on salmonid farms and on fish farms holding SVC susceptible species is scheduled for completion during autumn. Importer compliance inspections are 52% completed and isolation compliance inspections 82% completed, and are on target for delivery within the scheduled time frame.
Disease surveillance programmes on shellfish farms in England and Wales is temperature dependent due to the biological characteristics of the listed diseases of molluscan shellfish. Disease surveillance and compliance inspection programmes commence in spring and extend through to autumn. To date good progress has been made in discharging the 2017 programme with 30% completed during the quarter. The FHI received no reports of mortality events on shellfish farms in England and Wales during April-June 2017.
During the past quarter the redevelopment of the Starfish database, the information management tool used by the FHI to manage data on fish and shellfish farms, inspection programmes, and diagnostic investigations has been completed. Working in parallel with this, the development of the FHIPAD, which facilitates the collection and real-time submission of information to Starfish has also been completed with the release of the final application, the submission of data on diagnostic samples. This represents a significant step forward in the provision of a cost effective and efficient service to government and to stakeholders.
Under the Official Food and Feed Control Regulations (Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004) (now replaced with the Official Control Regulations (EU) 2017/625) the UK has to publish a five year multi-annual control plan for the UK covering official controls on food and feed, animal health, animal welfare and plant health. A report on progress towards implementation of the multi-annual plan is published on an annual basis. This report includes the official controls on fish and shellfish farms undertaken by the FHI. The report and previous reports are published online.
2. Disease investigations – Finfish
Following the completion of a comprehensive surveillance and eradication programme Great Britain obtained recognised freedom from the listed (notifiable) disease spring viraemia of carp (SVC) in 2010. With the exception of a single outbreak in a fishery in Northamptonshire in 2011, there have been no other instances of this disease in GB. However in April, following reports of mortalities in a number of fish species at a managed coarse fishery, Arden Lakes in Warwickshire, disease investigations confirmed the presence of SVC. Genotyping of the isolate showed that the virus was of European origin. A Confirmed Designation (CD02/2017) was placed on the fishery, and the fish were culled from the infected water which was then drained and disinfected. The fishery will be subject to statutory disease controls for a minimum of four years until the site can be demonstrated as free from infection. An epidemiological study seeking to identify the source of infection was undertaken but proved inconclusive.
The exploitation of wild caught wrasse species around the south-west coast of England for use as cleaner fish in the Scottish salmon farming industry has continued to cause concern from a number of stakeholder groups. The fish are typically caught using static fishing gear or by line fishing and consolidated in holding facilities before collection for transport to Scotland. Aquatic animal health legislation regards wild caught fish destined for use for farming purposes as aquaculture animals, and as such, once the fish are introduced into holding facilities they are subject to regulation. The FHI is currently in the process of authorising these facilities as aquaculture production businesses (APB’s). They will be required to comply with conditions of authorisation including the keeping of movement and mortality records which will be subject to regular inspection. In addition transporters of fish are also required to be authorised and are subject to inspections for aquatic animal health and for welfare purposes.
3. Disease investigations – Shellfish
Following confirmation of the molluscan shellfish disease Marteilia refringens in Dundrum Bay, and Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland in blue (edible) mussels Mytilus edulis during a disease surveillance programme, advice was provided to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on the mechanisms for informing the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) on reporting listed diseases. There was no evidence of clinical disease in any of the mussel stocks.
The FHI were informed of a mortality of American signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus in the River Irwell, Lancashire. This non-native species is the vector of crayfish plague caused by the Oomycetes fungus Aphanomyces astaci which has had a severe effect upon the population and geographical distribution of populations of the native white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes in Great Britain. Disease reports in signal crayfish are unusual, and upon investigation the presence of dead crayfish, along with an absence of other invertebrates and shoals of minnows exhibiting signs of distress indicated a water pollution incident. As no disease was detected the case was referred to the Environment Agency for further investigation.
As the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for molluscan diseases, the Cefas Weymouth Laboratory is required to participate in periodic inter laboratory comparison tests (‘ring trials’’) organised by the European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) which is located at Ifremer, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea. The purpose of the ‘ring trial’ is to quality assure the diagnostic capabilities of NRL’s across the European Union (with other voluntary participants from across the world). The 2017 test was for the detection of the oyster parasites Marteilia refringens & Bonamia sp. by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The test results from all participants are considered at the annual EURL meeting.
Advice has been provided to the shellfish industry on a range of issues including the rules on movements of native oysters Ostrea edulis into GB from the Republic of Ireland, exports of Manila clams Ruditapes philippinarum to Morocco, Bonamia ostreae in New Zealand dredge oyster Ostrea chilensis populations in the Menai Strait, Bonamia ostreae in native oyster Ostrea edulis populations in Wales, and movements of shellfish from Bonamia positive areas.
An application for the import of live Pacific white shrimp Penaeus vannamei by a UK-based company from a crustacean farm in Spain has been referred to the Spanish authorities as the supplier has claimed the broodstock was sourced from Vietnam, a country that is not approved by the EU for trade in live crustaceans for aquaculture purposes.
3.1 Breakdown of fish activities
|Compliance visits to authorised APBs||166|
|Routine disease inspections||142|
|Surveillance or sample on suspicion of notifiable disease||78|
|Visits resulting from confirmation of notifiable disease||51|
3.2 Breakdown of shellfish activities
|Compliance visits to authorised APBs||16|
|Routine disease inspections||2|
|Surveillance on suspicion of notifiable disease||1|
|Visits resulting from confirmation of notifiable disease||0|
4. Investigations and enforcement
A major threat to the high aquatic animal health status of GB is the illegal smuggling of live fish. The Fish Health Inspectorate received intelligence about the presence of a number of common carp present in a fishery in England that were believed to have originated in France and were brought into the country without health certification. This is an offence under the Trade in Animals and Animal Products Regulations 2011 and the Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009. Advice was obtained on the identity of the fish through the analysis of unique scale patterns evident in photographs of the fish taken in France and then subsequently in England. Expert opinion was that the fish were those that had originated in France. As a result of this evidence the Fish Health Inspectorate seized and destroyed the fish and placed the fishery under statutory control until the health status of the waters can be established.
The Fish Health Inspectorate undertook a number of other enforcement actions in relation to non-compliance with the conditions of authorisation and the conditions of Confirmed Designations. In each case following the issuing of warning letters and advice subsequent inspections showed the businesses to be compliant.
As a regulatory body the Fish Health Inspectorate is required to contribute to the Government’s statutory Business Impact Target (BIT). The FHI submitted a non-qualifying regulatory provision assurance statement for the reporting period 27 May 2016 to 8 June 2017 which was confirmed by the Government’s independent Regulatory Policy Committee. The statement can be found online.
Following the General Election in June the BIT set by the last government ended. A new BIT has yet to be published by the current administration.
4.1 Breakdown of investigations and enforcement activities
|Advice and warning letters issued||1|
5. Advice and representation
In April the Fish Health Inspectorate hosted a visit to the Cefas Weymouth laboratory by Professor Glossop the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales. She is responsible for contingency planning for exotic disease incursions and the purpose of the visit was to familiarise herself with the work of the Fish Health Inspectorate who are responsible for the operational delivery of disease controls in Wales. This was followed by a visit to the laboratory by the Deputy Head Marine and Fisheries Division and the Divisional Stakeholder Engagement Lead, who are leading on the drafting of an updated contingency plan for exotic aquatic animal diseases on behalf of Welsh Government.
The annual meeting of the England and Wales, and the Scotland Fish Health Inspectorates was hosted by Marine Scotland Science in Aberdeen in May. This provides an opportunity for the two Inspectorates to review procedures and practices, and ensure equivalence in Inspection services across the administrations.
The Fish Health Inspectorate collected, collated and submitted to the European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for fish diseases the annual questionnaire on fish health surveillance and diagnostics on behalf of the UK. A senior inspector subsequently attended the National Reference Laboratories for fish diseases annual meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark where he delivered a presentation on the use of electronic means for the collection of inspection data in the field.
The FHI’s UK Coordinator on aquatic animal health, attended the 85th General Session of the World Assembly of the OIE (Office International des Epizooties) Delegates in Paris in May in support of the UK Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO)
The annual meeting between representatives of the Environment Agency’s National Fisheries Services – Monitoring Services and the Fish Health Inspectorate was held in June in order to review, revise and improve cooperation in disease investigations.
The Head of the FHI attended the GB Wildlife Diseases Surveillance Partnership meeting held in Bristol and attended by a number of Defra agencies and other organisations with interests in wildlife disease, where he spoke on investigations undertaken by Cefas into disease events in wild aquatic animals.
A Fish Health Inspector organised a meeting at the Cefas Weymouth laboratory of local fishermen involved in the capture of wrasse for use as cleaner fish to introduce the new requirements for the authorisation of holding facilities as aquaculture production businesses. After engagement with the Marine Management Organisation this was followed this up with letters to fishermen known to be involved in this activity across the south-west of England.
At the invitation of Sunderland Marine Insurance, the Head of the FHI attended a meeting where he provided representatives of the company with an overview of aquatic animal health controls in England and Wales.
The Head of the FHI attended by teleconference the Defra group incident communications single point of contact (SPOC) meeting which is charged with improving and refining the response to emergencies.
Two members of the FHI represented the Fish Health Inspectorate at the Shellfish Association of Great Britain conference held at Fishmongers Hall in May.
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||690|
|Visitors to GOV.UK website||11102|
|Movement document applications||77|
|Fishery and AAH registrations||154 (100% achieved)|
|Test results and visit only letters||unavailable due to technical issues|
|Overall compliance rate within target||99.75%|
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 179. 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 110. The breakdown is as follows: