The International Air Transport Association is as its name suggests is a trade association. As such its Live Animal Regulations have no status in law unless individual governments give them that status.
A clear example of an area that has or will eventually give them the force of law is in the area covered by the 15 member states of the EU. The Veterinary Checks Directive 91/496 clearly states that anyone importing live fish (or indeed any animal) into the EU will do so in accordance with the latest standards published by IATA.
National authorities in the EU have on several occasions reminded importers of this requirement. It may be only a matter of time before this Directive is applied more widely and strictly throughout the EU.
The same Directive clearly states that any consignment of animals moving from one third country (i.e. non EU member state) to another third country via a member state shall be subject to ministerial approval. Thus it may be applied to fish transiting the EU, even if they don’t leave the airport.
It appears the Dutch authorities are applying other provisions of the Directive to fish in transit. This Directive, if implemented strictly, will have implications for the global industry. EU authorities may have the power to return poorly labelled consignments to their point of origin or destroy them, deny ministerial approval for transit shipments or prosecute carriers.
Update on the SVC situation in China
The Quarantine Authority in China has allowed the resumption of exports of koi and goldfish from seven “approved farms” in the Beijing area which have tested free of SVC using the relevant OIE (Office Internationale Epizooites the animal equivalent of the World Health Organisation) standards**. In the UK licences to import from these farms will be issued on a consignment by consignment basis and will have to be accompanied by a detailed health certificate.
It remains to be seen what the reaction of the other governments (e.g. Singapore, Australia and Japan) which instituted precautionary measures when the virus was found will be. These governments having responded to the original finding by the UK government are likely to scrutinise the decisions now made in light of the internationally recognised OIE Code. Thus though reference is made to the particular situation of imports from China into the UK the OIE code could be applied, should similar circumstance arise, anywhere in the world.
The remainder of China remains embargoed for the time being. It is probable that the UK government is waiting for assurances concerning the definition of the boundaries around the suspected infected zone and further details of the controls on moving fish to southern China before normal trade is resumed. The boundaries should usually be significant geographical features such as river basins or watersheds rather than simple lines on a map. Adequate assurances must also be received that movements of susceptible species from areas that are suspected of being infected with SVC to uninfected areas will be controlled.
* Spring Viraemia of Carp
** There will be more extended coverage of the OIE standards and methods in later Newsletters. In short, to establish “approved farm” status for SVC, the site must have a protected water course (this usually means a well, borehole or spring on site). In addition, the site must have tested free of the SVC virus using an approved technique at the appropriate times of the year, – spring and autumn for two years, and to have accepted no specimens on site of susceptible species for two years. If an approved farm is later found to be infected it must go through the whole process from the beginning again. The number of fish to be included in the sampling are determined by statistical science.