On my way home today. I’m writing this at the airport in Vancouver BC.
Over the past few days I’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of farms and export facilities in both Singapore and Malaysia. What I’ve taken away is an industry in these countries that is working to significantly upgrade their biosecurity and health screening procedures to meet increasing demands as well as anticipated new requirements from the World Animal Health Organization, the EU, Australia and to some extent the US.
We visited a number of facilities with significant biosecurity protocols which included:
- Separate quarantine facilities for export – fish are quarantined in these export facility prior to shipment. These facilities are separate from the actual production facilities. We visited two of these facilities that are slated to come on line in the next few months.
- Some facilities have two levels of quarantine; pre-quarantine at the production facility prior to shipment to the export quarantine facility.
- Separate facilities for holding domestic and imported fish.
- Movement from pond culture to tank and cement pond culture. Easier to prevent disease spread and easier to disinfect the rearing units.
- Tanks and ponds with individual water supplies and filtration. Water is not shared between tanks/ponds.
- Dedicated equipement for each tank or rearing unit.
- Individual siphons for each holding/rearing tank. These were actually hard-plumbed. Pretty cool idea.
- Bird netting, covered or enclosed rearing areas.
- Regular disease screening for export purposes but also as part of an ongoing health management program.
These are a few of the more significant examples of the move to more biosecure production systems.
Of course, there are still many facilities that are rearing fish in the older style pond culture systems many with many cage nets within individual ponds. There are also problems with pest control in some facilities – frogs moving between pods, birds, snakes. Further, there are instances where there appears to be inadequate disinfection between batches, not pulling mortalities quickly and inadequate equipment disinfection. I believe all of these issues can be addressed in time.
However, the hobbyist must be willing to pay more for this increased level of health management and biosecurity. All too often I hear, particularly in the US that hobbyists want healthier and safer fish but I’m told by many retailers that they are unwilling to pay more for these fish. Price still seems to be the guiding factor. THese additional health management practices add cost to the production process and it is important for the hobbyist to understand this fact.
Just some initial thoughts. Next I will post some images to give you a feel for the different types of farms and export facilities. Stay tuned. TMM