Europe-Middle East

the OIE aquatic animal health standards commission


Europe-Middle East virtual meeting

on the OIE aquatic animal health standards commission report September 2021.

December 13, 2021


The OIE Aquatic Animals Commission presented the texts for Member comments in the Commission’s the latest report from September 2021.

This report presents amended and new texts for the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Code and for the OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals that are circulated for Member comments.

Comments on Annexes 2 to 24 must reach OIE Headquarters by 9 January 2022 for them to be considered by the Aquatic Animals Commission at its February 2022 meeting.

In consideration of the engagement of Members in the standard-setting process and to better provide information about the work of the Commission; a Webinar on the OIE Aquatic Animals Commission September 2021 report is held for two OIE regions: the Middle East and Europe on 13th December 2021.

Topic: Report of the meeting of the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission, (Sept. 2021)

Participants: 49 Delegates, OIE Focal Points for Animal Disease Notification, and Focal Points for Aquatic

Animals and OIE Staff attended the meeting.

a-   Europe (14 countries): Armenia, Finland, Germany, Georgia, Ireland, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.

b-   Middle East (10 countries): Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi

Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Summary of the meeting:

Dr. Ghazi Yehia, the OIE regional representative for the middle east, opened the meeting by thanking all participants attending

Dr. Yehia summarised the rationale for this meeting by informing participants that the OIE has four Specialist Commissions:  The Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission, the Biological Standards Commission, the Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases and the Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission.

Together, the Specialist Commissions play a key role in the development and revision of OIE international standards and collaborate with its global scientific network. They are responsible for the official recognition of animal health status, provide advice on epidemiology, prevention and control of animal diseases, and address scientific and technical issues related to them.

The Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission (the Aquatic Animals Commission), created in 1960, is responsible for overseeing developments of the Aquatic Animal Health Code (the Aquatic Code) and Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals (the Aquatic Manual) and ensuring that they reflect current scientific information.

The Aquatic Animals Commission comprises six members, who are elected by the World Assembly of Delegates for a three-year term. The members are internationally recognized specialists with a broad understanding of the major diseases of aquatic animals addressed by the Aquatic Code and with expertise in surveillance, diagnosis, prevention, and control of aquatic animal diseases or methods, the welfare of farmed fish, and experience in international trade in aquatic animals and aquatic animal products.

The Aquatic Animals Commission collaborates closely with the Code Commission and Biological Standards Commission for scientific expertise as well as to ensure harmonized approaches, as appropriate.

Dr. Yehia noted that regional virtual meetings have been previously organised, where a member of the Aquatic Animals Commission presents the texts presented for Member comments in the Commission’s latest report. This was considered a good way of the engagement the Members in the standard-setting process and providing better information about the work of the Commission.   Today, the organisers would like to continue this approach with the Commission’s September 2021 report. Member countries have a deadline of 9 January for the submission of comments.

Dr. Yehia gave the floor to Dr. Fiona Geoghegan, Vice President of the Aquatic Animals Commission to present the September report of the Commission to the participants.

Dr. Fiona Geoghegan, Vice president of the Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission, presented the Commission’s September 2021 meeting report at the inter-regional webinar for the Middle East and Europe.  Prior to the specific presentation of the items presented within the report of the Commission, Dr. Geoghegan informed Members where they could find the report on the OIE website and introduced the members of the newly elected Aquatic Animals Commission.  For each item within the report, either for Member comments or information, Dr. Geoghegan drew members’ attention to the key changes and points that would be of importance to Members.   The annexes highlighted as being of particular importance in the Aquatic Code were the Glossary definitions for Competent Authority, Veterinary Authority, and Aquatic Animal Health Services where the definitions have been harmonised with the Terrestrial Code Commission, Chapter 1.4. Aquatic Animal Health Surveillance and Model Articles X.X.4. to X.X.8 for the disease-specific chapters to address declaration of freedom from pathogens.  For the Manual of diagnostic tests for aquatic animals, Dr. Geoghegan highlighted that Commission has continued with the progress of updating the chapters to the new template. After reviewing each item from the report, Dr. Geoghegan reminded Members of the process for submitting comments for the Aquatic Animals Commission’s consideration at the February 2022 meeting and the deadline of 9 January for submission of the comments. At the end of the presentation, Dr. Geoghegan thanked Reference Centre experts, ad hoc Groups, and the valuable input of Member country experts for their important contributions to the Commissions work.

At the end of Dr. Geoghegan’s presentation, Dr. Roberto A. Balbo, OIE regional representative, OIE SRR office, thanked all the invited attendees. This was an ideal continuation of two important events so well organised in the European Region, the Focal point training for Aquatic Animal Health and the Webinar on the standard-setting process during which the officials had the opportunity to see some of the current changes proposed to be adopted at the next general session and to better understand how the standard-setting process works.

He reminded participants that the production of fish represents a substantial pillar of the economy for some areas such as Oman in the Middle East and Europe.

The launch of the new AAH Strategy is a most welcomed addition that will provide Member countries the right tool to better produce to reach the sustainable development goals, and further improve the economy as the trend of the fishing industry show that more and more fish is consumed thanks also the dietary requirements and trends all over the world.

He wished all the participants a successful meeting and thanked the Representation in the Middle East for having led the organization of this event.