A comprehensive manual on fish health for Ireland’s salmon and trout farming industry was launched recently (Wednesday, 23rd November) by Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., Minister of Agriculture, Food and Marine at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine in Dublin.
The manual – The Farmed Salmonid Health Handbook - contains detailed and practical information on all aspects of fish stock care ranging from veterinary issues, environmental protection, feed & nutrition, treatments and current legislation. The Handbook was compiled by experts from a number of commercial fish farms as well as both private and government organisations involved with the Irish aquaculture industry including: IFA Aquaculture; the Marine Institute; Vet Aqua International, Global Trust Certification; and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. Development of the Handbook was supported by the AquaPlan project, carried out under the Sea Change strategy with the support of the Marine Institute.
“This manual is an essential element of a national plan aimed at supporting and increasing regional job creation and economic growth in one of our established aquatic food production sectors,” said Minister Coveney. “As with any industry involving animal husbandry, health and welfare of livestock are crucial factors for success.”
In 2000, the Marine Institute set up and chaired the Irish Fish Health Advisory Group, which began working on the development of a Code of Practice for Finfish Health in Ireland in 2005. This Code outlined the principles the industry agreed to work by in order to obtain the best possible health status for their fish.
With the support of AquaPlan, an accompanying document, now entitled The Farmed Salmonid Health Handbook, was developed.
“This Handbook contains detailed technical and practical information on all aspects of health management when rearing fish,” said Dr Peter Heffernan of the Marine Institute. “It is be produced in an A4 folder format and reviewed annually in order to keep abreast of the latest developments. We hope it will not only assist producers in establishing a sound framework to protect animal health and welfare on their farms, but also provide a platform for training.”
According to the Handbook, an essential part of the overall fish health plan is a written Veterinary Health Plan which must be put into place for each farm. This document should be created in consultation with each farm’s designated fish veterinary surgeon and updated at least once a year.
“Good husbandry is essential for producing healthy fish,” said Mr. Richie Flynn, Executive Secretary of IFA Aquaculture, which represents Irish fish and shellfish farmers. “This Handbook outlines in simple, practical terms, the best practices for handling, feeding and growing marine and freshwater fish and will form a cornerstone of the national fish health plan agreed between industry and the competent authorities.”