DISEASE FREE CERTIFICATION FOR FRY
FISH HEALTH CERTIFICATION PROGRAM (FHCP)
Our fingerlings come from a disease free certified hatchery.
The FHCP places the following fish health and biosecurity conditions to ensure that fish health management is consistently maintained by :
1. Keeping of fish health records
2. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for quarantine, disinfection, disease investigation, disease treatment and control
3. Reporting of significant or notifiable diseases
4. Regular veterinary inspection program of the facility
Since 2005, in association with the translocation of live fish out of Queensland and overseas, our hatchery has a consistent record of submitting samples of fish for health testing to the Queensland Government Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory. These tests are comprehensive. They include gross, and histology examination, (histopathology) of each sample submitted. This is where the sample, (Usually about 30 fish from each batch or pond.) is sliced into ultra thin, transparent sections which are then examined under a microscope by a highly qualified Queensland Government fish pathologist.
These tests are a requirement for batches of fish sent to aquaculture facilities outside the state of Queensland.
In 2010, our hatchery volunteered to participate in a new government scheme designed to better capture the health of fish at aquaculture facilitys. This new scheme developed by the Queensland Government, the Fish Health Certification Program, (FHCP) requires samples to be sent on a regular basis regardless of where the fish were to be sold.
The FHCP carries out regular disease surveillance testing by gross and histopathology performed by the Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory (BSL) of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF-Qld), Queensland State Government. The purpose of health testing is to afford the highest probability of detecting significant and notifiable diseases in the fish intended for sale and translocation to other states, or overseas. As such the timing of sampling and the numbers of fish to sample greatly influence this probability. For example, young fish prior to leaving the hatchery should be sampled if a viral disease is of interest and the number of fish should be sufficient to detect at least 1 positively infected fish in the sample. A smaller sample is needed for a sensitive test and a larger sample is needed for a less sensitive test. Other factors such as previous health history of the farm, cost, availability of specific tests, sampling sick fish can be applied to increase the probability of detection without necessarily increasing the numbers of fish sampled.
This is a more intensive, structured, program of testing and monitoring which would enhance our hatchery's ability to provide quality fish to its customers.
The FHCP also requires regular inspections by a qualified veterinarian.
Our hatchery has always considered fish health to be a high priority. A new lab was constructed at Ausyfish in 2008. This lab is well equiped and has several microscopes, one having a camera fitted creating a good training tool for staff.
If required Ausyfish will supply a health certificate and (OR) AQIS certificate to customers with their deliveries of fish.
To date no OIE or quarantinable diseases have been detected.
Viral encephalopathy and retinopathy (VER) or infection by betanodavirus is present in Queensland with records of disease in barramundi, archerfish, and giant grouper (and several of the other groupers in experimental cultures) – marine systems.
There is one record of VER in 3 month old sleepy cod in 1999. While it was never definitively confirmed, the official investigation concluded the sleepy cod fingerlings probably picked up the infection from the holding tanks/RAS which had previously held a batch of barramundi. This was a one-off incidence at this property. Otherwise VER is not seen in freshwater fishes in Queensland. This disease has never been detected at Ausyfish and, other than the one instance in sleepy cod, the disease has never been detected on any other freshwater farm/hatchery in Queensland.
VER is a reportable disease nationally so it is listed as restricted matter in the Queensland Biosecurity Act, and hatcheries and farmers are required report its occurrence to Biosecurity Queensland. Biosecurity Queensland in turn report the occurrence of VER to the Department of Agriculture Water and Environment, so they can report it internationally to the OIE in Australia’s Quarterly Aquatic Animal Disease report.
VER remains a significant issue for marine aquaculture in Australia and Asia. In Australia, while known to occur in barramundi fry, the disease has no impact in farms/grow out. It is different in giant grouper who seem to be susceptible at all ages (even >7 years old). There are increasing reports of VER in freshwater fish species in Asia; apparently due to the common practise of co-culture of various species in the same hatchery.
Because Ausyfish fry are tested regularly under the Fish Health Certification Program, (FHCP) any of lesions in the brains or eyes would be found. This is where the damage occurs in the infections with betanodavirus. Also, under the FHCP we are obligated to properly investigate any clinical disease incident. If VER was to occur lesions would be detected on histopathology of the diseased fish.