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Aquatic animal biosecurity

Biosecurity prevents the introduction and spread of infectious disease and are practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to keep aquatic animals healthy.

Whether you raise aquatic animals for food, or work or play in or around waterways where aquatic animals live, you can apply biosecurity measures to help protect Canada's aquatic resources from disease.

Additional information

Biosecurity for cultured aquatic animals

Biosecurity for people accessing natural waterways to protect aquatic animals

Biosecurity for cultured aquatic animals

The type of biosecurity measures you implement for cultured aquatic animals living in a land- or water-based facility depends on the set up of your facility. Your biosecurity measures should also take into account the different types of disease causing agents you are concerned with.

Biosecurity measures can address one or more of the following:

Biosecurity measures can be applied to:

  1. Aquatic animals that are reared on your site and that you bring onto your site
  2. Water that comes into, flows through, or leaves your site
  3. Feed brought in or produced on your site
  4. Items used on your site, or entering and leaving your site, including clothing, footwear, equipment, boats and vehicles
  5. Any animal that has the potential to transmit a disease, including wild aquatic animals, people, predators, scavengers, or working animals

For your biosecurity measures to be successful, your staff should be provided with training. Make sure written procedures are available and easy to access. This includes using signage explaining protocols in easy to read formats that are placed in locations visible to all visitors, staff, and suppliers.

It is highly beneficial to have a trained individual monitor the health of your cultured aquatic animals regularly. This will allow for early detection of disease so that interventions can be applied to limit the number of aquatic animals affected.

If you suspect a reportable disease you must immediately report it to the CFIA. Industry guidance documents explaining your responsibilities in reporting are available.

If you are an aquaculturist who suspects a reportable disease

If you are a veterinarian who suspects a reportable disease

If you are a researcher who suspects a reportable or immediately notifiable disease

General biosecurity measures for producers and veterinarians were developed for terrestrial animal farms, however, the majority of the information is relevant to aquaculture. You may be interested in a checklist for assessing your biosecurity practices, biosecurity practices for veterinarians for visiting farms, and monitoring your animals for disease.

Additional information

If you are interested in biosecurity measures to keep disease agents out of aquatic animal facilities or sites (bioexclusion)

If you are interested in biosecurity measures to limit the number of cultured aquatic animals affected by disease agents (biomanagement)

If you are interested in biosecurity measures to keep disease agents from leaving an aquatic animal culture facility or site (biocontainment)

If you are interested in general biosecurity measures for producers and veterinarians

Preventing disease agents from entering your facility or farm

Bioexclusion measures are protocols that keep disease causing agents out of your culture facility or farm.

These measures are used:

Bioexclusion measures are applied to all incoming aquatic animals, water, feed, items such as materials, equipment, and vehicles, and people, predators, scavengers and pests.

Did you know that we have a compartment recognition program for a land-based facility or farm that would like to be recognized free of reportable aquatic animal diseases that occur in Canada? More information can be found below.

Introducing new aquatic animals into your facility or farm

Some facilities or farms do not bring in new aquatic animals to continue their business but many do. Aquatic animals, including unfertilized eggs, milt, and fertilized eggs, brought into your facility or farm should be free of the diseases you do not want to come in.

You likely know what diseases are important to keep out based on what diseases your aquatic animals are susceptible to. You can consult with your veterinarian to make sure you are up to date on what these diseases are.

Aquatic animals are not brought in or incoming aquatic animals are not infected with the diseases.

Biosecurity tips

Purchase aquatic animals from facilities, farms, provinces or countries known to be free from the diseases.

Confirm their disease status by testing them before they arrive if the disease status of the aquatic animals is unknown.

Disinfect fertilized eggs before they arrive to inactivate the diseases on their surface.

For the free areas for reportable aquatic animal diseases that occur in Canada

If you plan to introduce aquatic animals from within Canada check if a CFIA domestic movement permit is required.

If you plan to introduce aquatic animals from outside of Canada check if a CFIA import permit is required.

Water that enters your facility or farm

It is important to ensure water coming into your facility or farm does not have the disease agents that you do not want to come in.

Incoming water source is not contaminated with the diseases or it is treated to inactivate the diseases.

Biosecurity tips

Use a water source that is free of the diseases, such as groundwater.

Install a water treatment system to eliminate the diseases. Types of water treatment systems include physical water treatment systems such as filters or UV light or chemical water treatment systems such as ozone or chlorine.

Monitor the water treatment system continuously and have a contingency plan in case of its failure.

Use screens or nets on surface water intakes to keep wild aquatic animals from entering.

Bringing aquatic animal feed or feed ingredients into your facility or farm

Commercially manufactured feeds are available for many species but sometimes feed is manufactured on-site. Supplemental feed ingredients that are added to commercial feed may also be brought in. Incoming feed and feed ingredients should be free of the diseases you do not want to come in.

Incoming feed is processed in a manner that inactivates diseases or incoming feed ingredients are not contaminated with the diseases.

Biosecurity tips

Use commercialfeed manufactured in a manner that inactivates the diseases. For example, commercial pelleted feed is cooked and dehydrated which inactivates disease agents.

If feed cannot be manufactured in a manner that inactivates disease agents then:

Select species for use as feed or feed ingredients that are resistant to the diseases.

Ensure aquatic animals used in the feed come from a facility, farm, province or country free of the diseases.

Test the animals to be used in the feed for the diseases before they enter.

Clothing, footwear, equipment, vehicles and other items that enter your facility or farm

Clothing, footwear, equipment, and vehicles are all examples of inanimate objects capable of transmitting diseases. All items entering your aquatic animal facility or farm should not be contaminated with the diseases you do not want to come in.

Items, such as clothing, footwear, equipment, and vehicles that may enter your aquatic animal facility or farm. Description follows.
Description of the diagram outlining bioexclusion measures for clothing, footwear, equipment, and vehicles and other items.

Clothing, footwear, equipment, and vehicles and all other items should only be permitted to enter your aquatic animal facility or farm if it is new, or if it is used, it has been cleaned and disinfected prior to entry.

Biosecurity tips

Authorize access to your facility or farm at all times.

Provide new, disposable clothing and footwear for visitors.

Provide dedicated clothing and footwear for your staff.

Bring new equipment on site.

Clean and disinfect used equipment and vehicles before entering. Follow manufacturer's instructions for disinfectant use and disposal.

Other animals and people that enter your facility or farm

Animals and people also have the potential to transmit a disease although the true risk they pose to your facility or farm is unknown. This includes wild aquatic or terrestrial animals, birds, insects, working dogs, and people.

Other animals and people that may enter your aquatic animal facility or farm. Description follows.
Description of the diagram outlining bioexclusion measures for other animals and people.

Wild animals are kept away from your aquatic animal rearing areas. People are not permitted to enter your aquatic animal facility or farm unless they have not been in recent contact with aquatic animals or, if they have, they conducted their activities using biosecurity protocols. Your working dogs are only allowed to leave the facility or farm if they will have no contact with your aquatic animals.

Biosecurity tips

Set-up and maintain physical barriers between wild animals and your aquatic animals, such as fencing, nets, and secure lids on rearing units, feed containers and mortality disposal bins.

Install pest control traps and baits in feed and garbage storage areas.

Limit visitors who will handle your aquatic animals to required biosecure service providers only.

We recommend that your visitors have not travelled to another country and visited an aquaculture site or had contact with wild aquatic animals within 14 days of their return to Canada unless you are confident that their biosecurity protocols prevent the introduction of disease.

Additional information

Learn more about becoming a compartment recognized by the CFIA

If you want to learn more about the national standards required to prevent the introduction of one or more reportable diseases into a compartment contact the closest CFIA Area Office for a copy.

If you want industry guidance for development of a preventive control plan for a facility considering recognition as a compartment as a free area, contact the closest CFIA Area Office for a copy.

Keeping disease agents from leaving your facility or farm

Biocontainment measures keep the disease agent from leaving your facility or farm. These measures are most commonly used with quarantine facilities or diagnostic, research, and environmental testing laboratories working with aquatic animal pathogens, aquatic animals, and aquatic animal products or other items that may carry a disease agent.

These measures are used when:

Biocontainment facilities require special considerations in the design and maintenance of the facility. These considerations are outlined in the containment standards below.

Additional information

For information on containment standards for facilities handling aquatic animal pathogens

Importers looking for guidance when establishing a quarantine unit for approval by the CFIA for international imports

Limiting impacts of disease agents on your facility or farm

Biomanagement measures limit impacts of disease causing agents that cannot be easily or economically eliminated from your facility or farm.

Normally, when a disease agent is continuously present in a facility or farm, impacts are not noticeable or are very mild. For a noticeable disease impact to happen an imbalance occurs between the aquatic animals, their environment, and the disease agent. Biomanagement measures are aimed at promoting favourable conditions for the aquatic animals and their rearing environment, and unfavourable conditions for the disease agent.

Did you know that you already use biomanagement measures daily to keep your animals healthy? This is because it is in your best interest to ensure that your husbandry practices enhance the welfare of your animals. In addition, health management tools are available to minimize the presence of disease causing agents. Your veterinarian can work with you and your staff to implement the practices best suited to your facility or farm, the species that are reared, and your diseases of interest.

Did you also know that there are biomanagement measures that minimize the impact of a disease outbreak when it does occur? Be aware that transport of aquatic animals showing signs of disease out of your facility or farm is prohibited under the Health of Animals Regulations except under specific circumstances.

Biosecurity tips

Implement an animal health management plan that promotes animal health during routine handling.

Optimize the diet of your animals.

Store feed properly to ensure it does not become rancid or contaminated with disease agents.

Monitor the rearing environment regularly and take action when the environment is not optimal.

Implement a vaccination program with the assistance of your veterinarian.

Monitor the health of your animals regularly and take action when their health is not optimal.

Remove dead and very sick animals regularly.

Use dedicated equipment for each rearing unit or clean and disinfect equipment between units.

Use dedicated staff to care for young animals or sick animals.

Additional information

If you are interested in general biosecurity measures for producers and veterinarians

For information on the Code of Practice for Care and Handling of Farmed Finfish

Biosecurity for people accessing natural waterways

Biosecurity measures are also important to follow if you work, fish, or boat in the waterways of Canada. This is because wild aquatic animals, even when they appear healthy, can be a source of disease agents that can be spread to other bodies of water or watersheds when moved by people. People in these natural waterways can also spread disease agents by moving contaminated water, or boats, footwear, and other things that became contaminated when used in the waterway.

Do not move live or dead wild aquatic animals between waterways without the proper permissions. A federal, provincial or territorial permission may be required to relocate certain aquatic animals within Canada.

Biosecurity Tips

If you plan to introduce aquatic animals from within Canada check if a CFIA domestic movement permit is required.

If you plan to introduce aquatic animals from outside of Canada check if a CFIA import permit is required.

Check federal, provincial and territorial regulations for prohibited aquatic animal species movements.

Check the provincial and territorial regulations before moving live or dead bait between waterways.

Do not use aquatic animals purchased from a grocery store as bait.

Do not release aquatic animals from your pond or aquarium into natural waterways.

Dispose of the waste from gutted and cleaned aquatic animals into municipal garbage.

Designate items, such as boats and footwear, to a particular waterway.

Clean and disinfect footwear, equipment, boats and trailers prior to entering a new waterway.

Wash your clothing thoroughly and dry it at a high temperature before going to a new waterway.

The Agency recommends that you do not visit Canadian aquaculture sites, zoos or aquariums for 14 days if you have travelled to another country and visited an aquaculture site or had contact with wild finfish in that country.

Additional information

Alberta Environment and Parks – Stop the Spread of Whirling Disease. This link provides information on you can help stop the spread of this disease.

Banff National Park – Stop the Spread of Whirling Disease in Banff National Park. This link provides information on how you can help prevent spread of this disease within the park.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention. Although this link describes biosecurity measures focused on preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species these measures can also help you reduce the spread of disease agents.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources – Management of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia. This link provides information on how you can contribute to the management of this disease in Ontario's waterways.

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