CEFAS' new rules governing fish movememt, breeding and disease control

Following the introduction of new legislation this year, in the shape of the Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, there has been a significant change in the management of serious fish diseases in fishery waters.

All fishery operators in England and Wales who stock fish to or harvest fish from other waters must register their fisheries with the Cefas Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI). This registration makes the fishery operator legally responsible for disease management at that fishery.

Any fishery operator, or person charged with the care of fish in a fishery, is legally obliged to report any suspicion of the presence of a notifiable disease to the FHI. In addition, any operator of a registered fishery is required to notify the Inspectorate or a veterinary surgeon of any increased mortality at that fishery. Failure to do so is an offence and the FHI will consider taking legal action when operators fail to report such events.

The Regulations also provide the FHI with improved powers to control cases of notifiable diseases within fishery complexes. The FHI hopes to work closely with fishery owners to maximise the effectiveness of disease controls on affected waters, while minimising the impact of those controls on the operation of the fishery business.

Fisheries suspected of being infected with, or confirmed to be infected with, a notifiable disease such as Koi Herpesvirus will be subject to either an Initial or a Confirmed Designation respectively. These designations, allow the FHI to place controls on a site that is appropriate for the prevention of disease spread.

Typically these will include:

• No movements of live fish being allowed ON or OFF of the site initially.  This control will remain in force until the clinical outbreak has ended, or until investigations have ruled out the presence of a notifiable disease.
Where a notifiable disease is confirmed, movements off-site will be prohibited until the site is declared free of the disease in question. In addition, introductions of fish will be prohibited until the Inspectorate is confident that such introductions will not risk the re-emergence of clinical disease in the affected waters.

• Movements of fish within a fishery complex may also be restricted if only some of the lakes are showing signs of disease. The aim of such action is to discourage further proliferation of the disease around the site.

• Movement restrictions of any equipment, material or substance liable to transmit disease (including fishing tackle) into, out of or within the initial designation area will be imposed if there are clinical signs of disease on the site. These controls may result in the cessation of angling on particular waters during the period where there are ongoing mortalities in those waters.
The FHI believe that their new powers to control equipment movements should not have a great impact on the running of a fishery, as it assumes that no fishery owner, given their legal responsibility to take care of the welfare of their stock, would allow anglers to fish on any water where there was an ongoing mortality situation and/or significant numbers of unhealthy fish.

• Where the disease problem is widespread on a fishery these controls may result in the temporary closure of that fishery during the period of ongoing mortality. The FHI will endeavour to ensure that restrictions on equipment movements are applied only on those parts of a fishery where they are appropriate to prevent the spread of disease. This should ensure that fisheries can continue to allow angling on waters within a fishery complex where there is no clinical disease outbreak.

• Disinfection stations for angling equipment (and footwear such as waders, where appropriate) will be required in situations where fisheries do not supply such equipment themselves. Other biosecurity measures may be applied where these are required to reduce the risk of disease spread from the fishery.
These new powers have made it easier for the FHI to apply suitable disease controls on sites infected with, or suspected of being infected with, notifiable diseases. By applying these controls in a form tailored to the requirements of individual situations, the FHI hope to minimise the risk of diseases spread while allowing fishery operators the maximum scope to keep sites open for angling. The Inspectorate hopes that fishery owners and anglers will understand and support it in this approach to controlling disease in fishery waters.
By way of a reminder, fishery operators are obliged to abide by legal requirements under the new Regulations, and to register any fishery in which they plan to stock fish or from which they intend to move fish for re-stocking elsewhere. Operators of established stocked fisheries are legally obliged to register those fisheries by 1 August 2009. If they fail to register by that date, they will be operating the fishery outside the law and may face both delays in obtaining permission to stock fish and legal action seeking their compliance with the new legislation.



Notifiable disease, a serious, typically untreatable, disease subject to statutory control within GB. Anyone suspecting the presence of such a disease in a fish population should notify the fish health inspectorate. Notifiable diseases of fish inn GB include KHV and SVC, which affect carp and cyprinid species respectively, ISA, VHS IHN BKD and Gyrodactylus salaris, which affect various salmonid species.
FHI in England and Wales can be contacted on
Tel  01305 206673/4
Fax 01305 206602

In Scotland on 01224 876544

For more about notifiable diseases and the new Regulations, see www.efishbusiness.co.uk