Posted: August 14, 2013, 12:30 p.m. EDT
By John Dawes
Exports of Chinese fish—mainly coldwater species and varieties such as koi and goldfish—could come under threat following a visit made to the country by the European Commission’s (EC) Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) last October.
The visit was made "to evaluate the animal-health controls in place for aquaculture animals destined for export to the European Union (EU),” according to the subsequent report.
Future exports of fish, such as these Chinese koi, could be under threat if certain improvements are not implemented by the country's authorities. Shutterstock
The FVO concluded that "the People’s Republic of China … has sufficient resources and has the power necessary to authorize AA (Aquatic Animal) farms for export and to carry out official controls re- lated to the import, production and movement of live ornamental fish intended for export to the EU.”
Nonetheless, the delegation felt that the authorization and control systems currently in place "cannot provide appropriate guarantees in regard to compliance with or equivalence to all relevant animal-health requirements established in the EU legislation.”
The FVO came to this conclusion because mortality records at AA farms were incomplete or missing; the effectiveness and reliability of surveillance were undermined by "the inconsistent targeting of on-farm sampling”; no evidence existed that diseases listed with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) also were notifiable within China; and the practice of reporting such diseases to the EU or the OIE "only when clinical disease is present” is not in line with the OIE and EU provisions.
Further complicating matters was the perception of deficiencies with the health certification system, including pre-export inspections not always carried out within 72 hours of loading. Also, the certificates do not specify whether health statements made in connection with the fish in question relate to the country, zone or compartment (farm). Other weaknesses related to laboratory testing, standard quality and documentation procedures.
In light of these shortcomings, the EC FVO made several recommendations to the China Competent Authority (CA), which is the agency responsible for all such matters. The CA was then "invited to provide, within one month of receipt of the draft report, an action plan containing details of actions taken and planned, including deadlines for its completion to address the … recommendations.” The Chinese CA duly responded on Feb. 1, within the stipulated period.
In their reply, the Chinese authorities planned to have measures regarding the mortality records reporting issue in place before June 31. They also plan to implement measures to address the country/zone/compartment deficiency by Sept. 31 and will revise notification procedures—including submission of details to OIE—during the current year.
Regarding the inspection of consignments within the stipulated 72-hour pre-export period, these procedures also will be in place by Sept. 31. Finally, laboratories that carry out disease analyses on ornamental fish destined for the EU will be appropriately accredited over the coming two years, with the authorities taking steps to "check the implementation of the … measures before Dec. 31, 2014.”
We now await the FVO’s response to the details submitted by the Chinese Competent Authority. <HOME>
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