Strong Support For KHV Statutory Controls

Fish Welfare Group - Press News

The disease caused by Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) became notifiable in England and Wales on April 6th 2007. This regulation places a statutory obligation on anyone suspecting the presence of KHV in fish stocks to report it to the authorities.

However, to limit the damage caused by the disease, much more is needed by all involved in managing recreational fisheries, supplying those fisheries and importing, selling and keeping ornamental fish.  Control measures could have been introduced directly by Government, but following a detailed consultation process with industry bodies, an innovative approach of joint industry/Government co-operation has been agreed.

Organisations participating in the Fish Welfare Group have welcomed the opportunity to work with DEFRA and the industry sector generally to formulate the strategy to control KHV. Many representatives, from a wide variety of organisations, have worked together with government officials to develop this joint approach.

Codes of best practice have been developed to provide a variety of interlinked actions to protect the UK's wild and ornamental fish stocks. They will help prevent outbreaks of KHV and other novel diseases that will threaten fish welfare in future. These codes are designed to improve general bio-security in the ornamental, fish farming, fish supply and fishery management sectors.  Use of these codes will ensure rising standards of competency in fishery management, fish transport, fish purchase and husbandry. This initiative is founded on bio-security principles and correctly places the emphasis of fighting diseases on those who purchase and care for fish in situations as diverse as natural fisheries or ornamental fish retailing outlets.

These codes have been recognised and supported by DEFRA, Cefas, the Environment Agency and other governmental bodies, and they should be used to help make informed choices on buying and moving fish by fish-related businesses. Commercial organisations, the voluntary sector and individuals following these codes will be helped not only to fight KHV but also to meet legal obligations under new regulations concerning animal transport and animal welfare.

It is now imperative that each individual buying or moving fish, whether importing ornamentals or moving stock between lakes, puts these codes and guidelines into operation. By doing so they will publicly demonstrate their wish to protect their businesses, the sectors that provide their and others livelihoods, and the natural and managed fish communities in the country.

Co-operative Action
For perhaps the first time the industry has co-operated in lobbying Government to mount a robust response to the KHV threat.  In response, DEFRA has approached this complex problem with an open mind and has proved prepared to accept a mixed system of legislative measures and self-regulation by its industry partners.