WASHINGTON -- The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is releasing the National Aquaculture Health Plan and Standards (NAHPS). The plan details how USDA will provide oversight of the health certification, movement and trade of aquatic livestock raised in land-based, inshore, and offshore facilities. These actions will support the overall health of the aquaculture industry, which will provide protection and assurance for producers of farm-raised aquatic animals in the United States.

The NAHPS establishes guidance for national disease reporting, laboratory and testing standardization, surveillance, response, biosecurity, data management as well as education and training to protect aquaculture health. It also outlines health inspection options to provide consistent and verifiable ways to establish, maintain and certify the health and safety of aquatic livestock, and lists the actions USDA will take in each of these areas to implement the plan.

“As we’ve seen increasing growth in aquaculture in this country, it is essential that we have clear standards for our nation’s producers to follow,” said Dr. Burke Healey, USDA chief veterinarian. “These recommendations will facilitate aquatic animal movement, protect the health of aquatic animals, and minimize the impacts of disease events when they occur.”

With the release of this plan, USDA is taking a lead role in providing guidance for aquatic animal health. USDA will continue to collaborate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), as well as other Federal, State, and Tribal entities to ensure the health of all aquatic animals in the United States.