[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 161 (Friday, August 21, 2009)]
[Pages 42225-42227]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-19702]

                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
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statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.


Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 161 / Friday, August 21, 2009 / 

[[Page 42225]]


Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2008-0096]

National Aquatic Animal Health Plan for the United States; Notice 
of Availability

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA; National 
Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, DOC; and Fish and Wildlife Service, DOI.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for comments.


SUMMARY: We are advising the public that a National Aquatic Animal 
Health Plan (NAAHP) for the United States is being made available for 
public review and comment. The NAAHP was developed by a Task Force led 
by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. 
Department Agriculture, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) of the U.S. 
Department of the Interior, and the National Marine Fisheries Service 
(NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the 
U.S. Department of Commerce. It is anticipated that this plan will 
provide a framework for how APHIS, FWS, and NMFS should develop 
programs for diseases that affect the health of aquatic animals such as 
finfish, crustaceans, and mollusks.

DATES: APHIS, FWS, and NMFS will consider all comments received on or 
before October 20, 2009.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2008-0096 to submit or view comments and 
to view supporting and related materials available electronically. All 
comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be 
posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal 
identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily 
submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit 
confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected 
information. The agency will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' 
in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). You may 
submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, 
WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send two copies of 
your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2008-0096, Regulatory Analysis and 
Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, 
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to 
Docket No. APHIS 2008-0096.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on the 
National Aquatic Animal Health Plan in the APHIS reading room. The 
reading room is located in Room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th 
Street and Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading 
room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except 
holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 
690-2817 before coming.
    Other Information: Additional information about APHIS and its 
programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov. 
Additional information about FWS is available on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov. Additional information about the NOAA Aquaculture Program 
is available on the Internet at http://aquaculture.noaa.gov.

APHIS: Dr. P. Gary Egrie, Veterinary Medical Officer, Aquaculture, 
Swine, Equine, and Poultry Health Programs, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road, 
Unit 46, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 734-0695.
NMFS: Mr. Kevin Amos, National Aquatic Animal Health Coordinator, NOAA 
Aquaculture Program, 1315 East-West Hwy., SSMC3 Rm. 13137, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910; (360) 709-9001.
FWS: Ray Brunson, Project Leader, FWS, Olympia Fish Health Center, 3859 
Martin Way E, Suite 101, Olympia, WA 98506; 360-753-9046.



    Aquaculture, which includes the managed production of aquatic 
animals, is practiced throughout the United States and its territories 
by private, public, and tribal entities. Aquaculture continues to grow 
as a major agribusiness enterprise. The production of aquatic animals 
is a critical economic and environmental activity that provides a 
source of healthy food, employment, recreation, and supplementation of 
wild fishery stocks for harvest by commercial and tribal harvesters, as 
well as protection and restoration of aquatic animals that face 
    Disease has the potential to pose a great threat to the success of 
aquaculture. Developing and implementing a national aquatic animal 
health plan has become urgent for two reasons: The growing need to 
protect our domestic commerce and resources, and the advent of new 
health regulations by foreign governments that restrict the importation 
of live and processed aquatic animals from the United States.
    In recent years, outbreaks of infectious salmon anemia and spring 
viremia of carp in private U.S. aquaculture operations resulted in 
losses of over $10 million. Also recently, a new strain of viral 
hemorrhagic septicemia has affected several wild populations of fish in 
the Great Lakes region of the United States. If the United States 
maintains a limited and disparate supporting infrastructure to 
diagnose, report, educate, manage, and develop surveillance and control 
programs, the presence of these or the discovery of other aquatic 
animal pathogens in this country could lead to restriction or 
elimination of international commerce in some aquatic animals for the 
United States.

[[Page 42226]]

The National Aquatic Animal Health Plan (NAAHP)

    In 2001, the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA), under the 
auspices of the Executive Office of the President, Office of Science 
and Technology Policy, commissioned a national task force to develop a 
national health plan for aquatic animals. Three Federal Departments 
with primary responsibility for aquatic animal health are leading the 
task force--the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. 
Department of Commerce (Commerce), and the U.S. Department of the 
Interior (DOI). USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 
(APHIS) protects the health of U.S. agriculture, thereby improving 
agricultural productivity and competiveness and contributing to the 
national economy and public health. Commerce's National Marine 
Fisheries Service (NMFS) is dedicated to the stewardship of living 
marine resources through science-based conservation and management, and 
the promotion of healthy ecosystems. DOI's Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS) works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, 
wildlife, and plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of 
the American people. The FWS' Aquatic Animal Health Program strives to 
conserve our nation's fisheries and aquatic resources.
    Once the JSA commissioned the task force to develop the NAAHP, the 
task force recognized that the first outreach activity would be to 
bring together all interested parties, inform them of the intent to 
develop a plan, and request their recommendations regarding content. 
The recommendations from stakeholders shaped the mission and the 
objectives for the NAAHP, which was again vetted by interested parties 
and reviewed by the JSA itself. The mission of the NAAHP is to:
     Facilitate the legal movement of all aquatic animals, 
their eggs, and their products in interstate and international 
     Protect the health and thereby improve the quality and 
productivity of farmed and wild aquatic animals;
     Ensure the availability of diagnostic, inspection, and 
certification services; and
     Minimize the impacts of diseases when they occur in farmed 
or wild aquatic animals.
    Following approval of the mission of the NAAHP by the JSA, the task 
force began soliciting information for the contents of the chapters. 
Technical group meetings were held, at which information was solicited 
from industry, State, tribal, Federal and academic partners. A total of 
12 group meetings were held between January 2003 and November 2006. 
Many of the technical groups focused on species-specific disease issues 
with regard to surveillance and disease management. The task force's 
technical team used information from these groups and from other 
meetings to draft the NAAHP's chapters.
    The goal of the NAAHP is to provide recommendations to industry, 
States, tribes, Federal agencies, and other stakeholders to meet the 
mission of the Plan. These recommendations are not necessarily in 
support of an overarching regulatory program to be implemented by the 
Federal Government. Rather, the recommendations relate to activities 
for consideration by all stakeholders to meet the mission of the Plan.
    Four principles have been used by the task force to develop the 
NAAHP. They are:
     Construct the Plan using established scientific principles 
of fish health management;
     Develop the Plan in an open and visible process in which 
stakeholders have opportunities to provide information;
     Recognize that limited resources are available; therefore 
the plan must be affordable, make sense to stakeholders, and be capable 
of implementation; and
     Develop standards that are consistent with World Trade 
Organization and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines 
and, to the extent possible, are consistent with Federal, State, and 
tribal regulations already in existence in the United States.

Recommendations and Implementation

    While the NAAHP is not a regulation, it provides general principles 
and guidelines for how the U.S. Federal Agencies with jurisdiction over 
aquatic animal health (APHIS, NMFS, and FWS) should take action to 
protect our farmed and wild resources, facilitate safe commerce, and 
make available laboratory testing, training, and other programs as 
needed to implement the NAAHP. The key recommendations made by the task 
force are related to the following areas:
     Prevention of the introduction or spread of program 
aquatic animal pathogens (PAAPs);
     Response to PAAPs and reportable aquatic animal pathogens 
     Health certification;
     Surveillance schemes for PAAPs and RAAPs;
     Laboratories, standardized testing, quality testing, and 
approved personnel; and
     Education and training.
    In addition to the recommendation areas listed, activities 
addressed in the NAAHP include the following: Definition of pathogens 
of national concern; creation and implementation of disease management 
zones; identification of priority areas for research and development in 
aquatic animal health, including identification of existing funding 
structures and recommendations for leveraging resources; description of 
strategies for continued outreach and awareness regarding national 
aquatic animal health strategies and the NAAHP; and implementation of 
the NAAHP.
    Due to limited resources, the NAAHP must be developed based on the 
priorities and recommendations identified within the Plan, and 
implementation of these priorities will be contingent upon funding. 
However, continued stakeholder consultation is necessary to ensure that 
the priorities and recommendations in the Plan are updated if 
necessary. Therefore, the establishment of a National Advisory 
Committee for Aquatic Animal Health is of utmost importance to a 
successful NAAHP.
    Such a committee could be established as a permanent advisory 
committee--chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)--
to the Federal agencies responsible for implementing programs related 
to the NAAHP. Alternatively, it could be created as a subcommittee of a 
currently established FACA committee, such as the Secretary's Advisory 
Committee on Foreign Animal and Poultry Diseases within the USDA. In 
either case, the Advisory Committee structure can provide information 
to agencies regarding issues of importance and, in an environment of 
fiscal conservation, assist the Federal agencies in allocating 
resources for aquatic animal health issues appropriately. Such an 
advisory committee should be large enough to ensure broad stakeholder 
representation, but small enough to ensure its effectiveness.
    The next step is for the Federal agencies to take the 
recommendations and suggested actions in the Plan and make them into 
policies, guidelines, and if appropriate, regulations. As with the 
development of the NAAHP, implementation must be a collaborative 
process that includes information from States, tribes, industry, and 
other stakeholders, and the timeframe for certain activities may be 
influenced by available funding.

[[Page 42227]]

Accessing and Commenting on the NAAHP

    We are making the NAAHP dated October 2008 available to the public 
for review and comment. We will consider all comments that we receive 
on or before the date listed under the heading DATES at the beginning 
of this notice.
    The NAAHP may be viewed on the Federal eRulemaking Web site (see 
ADDRESSES above for instructions for accessing Regulations.gov). You 
may request paper copies of the draft document by contacting the 
persons listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Please refer to 
the title of the draft document when requesting copies. The NAAHP may 
also be viewed at APHIS' Web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_dis_spec/aquaculture/, at FWS' Web site at http://www.fws.gov/fisheries/, or at NOAA's aquaculture Web site at http://aquaculture.noaa.gov. The NAAHP is also available for review in the 
APHIS reading room. (Information on the location and hours of the APHIS 
reading room is listed under the heading ADDRESSES at the beginning of 
this notice.)

    Dated: August 11, 2009.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Daniel M. Ashe,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    Dated: August 11, 2009.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E9-19702 Filed 8-20-09; 8:45 am]