Aquatic Animal Health Code

Contents | Index Chapter 4.8. SECTION 5. Chapter 5.2.

Chapter 5.1.

General obligations related to certification

Article 5.1.1.

A combination of factors should be taken into account to facilitate international trade in aquatic animals and aquatic animal products, without incurring unacceptable risks to human and aquatic animal health.

Because of differences between countries in their aquatic animal health situations, various options are offered by the Aquatic Code. The aquatic animal health situation in the exporting country, in the transit country or countries and in the importing country should be considered before determining the requirements for trade. To maximise harmonisation of the aquatic animal health aspects of international trade, Competent Authorities of Member Countries should base their import requirements on OIE standards.

These requirements should be included in the certificates drawn up in accordance with the model international aquatic animal health certificates provided for in Chapter 5.11.

Certificates should be exact and concise, and should clearly address the requirements of the importing country. For this purpose, prior consultation between Competent Authorities of importing and exporting countries may be necessary. This consultation helps to determine the exact requirements of the certification.

Certificates should be issued and signed by a certifying official authorised by the Competent Authority to perform inspections, and endorsed through signature and/or official stamp of the Competent Authority. The certification requirements should not include conditions for diseases that are not transmitted by the commodity concerned. The certificate should be signed in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 5.2.

When officials of a Competent Authority wish to visit another country for matters of professional interest to the Competent Authority of the other country, the latter should be informed prior to any such visit. This visit should be mutually agreed upon between Competent Authorities.

Article 5.1.2.

Responsibilities of the importing country

  1. The import requirements included in the international aquatic animal health certificate should assure that commodities introduced into the importing country comply with OIE standards. Importing countries should align their requirements with the recommendations in the relevant standards of the OIE. If there are no such recommendations or if the country chooses a level of protection requiring measures more stringent than the standards of the OIE, these should be based on an import risk analysis conducted in accordance with Chapter 2.1.

  2. The international aquatic animal health certificate should not include requirements for the exclusion of pathogenic agents or aquatic animaldiseases that are present in the importing country and are not subject to any official control programme. The measures imposed on imports to manage the risks posed by a pathogenic agent or aquatic animaldisease should not be more stringent than those applied as part of the official control programme operating within the importing country.

  3. The international aquatic animal health certificate should not include measures against pathogenic agents or diseases that are not OIE listed, unless the importing country has demonstrated through an import risk analysis, carried out in accordance with Section 2, that the pathogenic agent or disease poses a significant risk to the importing country.

  4. The transmission of the requirements of the importing country or certificates from the Competent Authority of the importing country and the communication of import requirements to persons other than the Competent Authority of another country necessitates that copies of these documents be also sent to the Competent Authority of the exporting country. This important procedure avoids delays and difficulties that may arise between traders and Competent Authorities when the authenticity of the certificates or permits is not established.

    The transmission of this information is the responsibility of Competent Authorities of the exporting country. However, it can be issued by private sector veterinarians at the place of origin of the commodities when this practice is the subject of appropriate approval and authentication by Competent Authorities.

  5. Situations may arise that result in changes to the consignee, identification of the means of transportation, or frontier post after a certificate is issued. If it is determined that these do not change the aquatic animal health or public health status of the consignment, then they should not prevent the acceptance of the certificate.

Article 5.1.3.

Responsibilities of the exporting country

  1. An exporting country should, on request, supply the following to importing countries:

    1. information on the aquatic animal health situation and national aquatic animal health information systems to determine whether that country is free or has zones or compartments free from listed diseases, and on the pathway followed to achieve disease freedom e.g. historical freedom, absence of susceptible species or targeted surveillance, including the regulations and procedures in force to maintain the free status;

    2. regular and prompt information on the occurrence of listed diseases;

    3. details of the country's ability to apply measures to control and prevent listed diseases;

    4. information on the structure of the Competent Authority and the authority that they exercise;

    5. technical information, particularly on biological tests and vaccines applied in all or part of the country.

  2. Competent Authorities of exporting countries should:

    1. have official procedures for the authorisation of certifying officials, defining their functions and duties as well as conditions of oversight and accountability, including possible suspension and termination of the authorisation;

    2. ensure that relevant instructions and training are provided to certifying officials;

    3. monitor the activities of the certifying officials to verify their integrity and impartiality.

  3. The Competent Authority of the exporting country is ultimately accountable for certification used in international trade.

Article 5.1.4.

Responsibilities in case of an incident related to importation

  1. International trade involves a continuing ethical responsibility. Therefore, if within a reasonable period subsequent to an export taking place, the Competent Authority becomes aware of the appearance or reappearance of a disease that has been specifically included in the international aquatic animal health certificate or other disease of potential epidemiological importance to the importing country there is an obligation for the Competent Authority to notify the importing country, so that the imported commodities may be inspected or tested and appropriate action be taken to limit the spread of the disease should it have been inadvertently introduced.

  2. If a disease condition appears in imported aquatic animals within a reasonable period after importation, the Competent Authority of the exporting country should be informed so as to enable an investigation to be made, because this may be the first available information on the occurrence of the disease in a previously free aquatic animal population. The Competent Authority of the importing country should be informed of the result of the investigation because the source of infection may not be in the exporting country.

  3. If a disease appears in aquatic animals in an importing country and is associated with importation of commodities, the Competent Authority of the exporting country should be informed. This will enable the exporting country to investigate as this may be the first available information on the occurrence of the disease in a previously free aquatic animal population.

  4. In case of suspicion, on reasonable grounds, that an international aquatic animal health certificate may be fraudulent, the Competent Authority of the importing country and exporting country should conduct an investigation. Consideration should also be given to notifying any third country(ies) that may have been implicated. All associated consignments should be kept under official control, pending the outcome of the investigation. Competent Authorities of all countries involved should fully cooperate with the investigation. If the international aquatic animal health certificate is found to be fraudulent, every effort should be made to identify those responsible so that appropriate action can be taken in accordance with the relevant legislation.


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Contents | Index Chapter 4.8. Chapter 5.2.