AIS-HACCP approach reduces risk of spread of AIS in aquaculture and baitfish industries

Assessment of individual aquaculture and baitfish operations can minimize the risk of spreading AIS and safeguard businesses’ economies.

The application of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach is found among many industries and business processes to ensure product safety. The aquaculture and baitfish industries are no exception because HACCP can help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), including a variety of plant, invertebrate, vertebrate and pathogen AIS.  young fish

The baitfish and aquaculture industries are extremely diverse in the water source and production systems of produced and marketed forms of species found within the industries. While most industry segments pose no or very low risk of spreading AIS, adequate risk assessment of individual operations is encouraged to further minimize the risk of spreading AIS, which could negatively impact the economy of these industries.  

The AIS-HACCP approach is to prevent the spread of AIS while maintaining viable baitfish and aquaculture industries. The AIS-HACCP approach can be used to certify AIS-free products for those operations that choose to seek this certification. It can be used to focus attention on the segments of the baitfish and aquaculture processes that are most likely to pose a risk of spreading AIS. It also allows regulators to assess what happens in various baitfish and aquaculture operations and evaluate how potential hazards are being handled. With the HACCP approach, the emphasis is to understand the entire process and requires regulators and industry to communicate and work with one another on three primary purposes.

  • AIS-HACCP can restrict the spread of AIS while maintaining the economic viability of the baitfish and aquaculture industries – This can be achieved, partly, through monitoring, recording and verifying efforts to reduce the risk of spreading AIS in individual operations.
  • AIS-HACCP can provide state and federal hatcheries with a means to satisfy public concerns regarding their role in the spread of AIS – State and federal hatcheries must ensure that they are not responsible for the spread of unwanted species and are conducting their fish stocking efforts in an environmentally responsible manner.
  • AIS-HACCP can provide a mechanism by which private aquaculturists can certify their product as AIS-free – Some states and watersheds require certified AIS-free bait and some organizations, agencies and private buyers would like to purchase certified AIS-free fish for stocking.

The AIS-HACCP approach has many advantages. It can deal, effectively, with a diverse industry and diverse risk factors. It can help avoid overly restrictive regulations and, if properly applied, can be effective at reducing the risk of spreading AIS through baitfish and fish stocking.

For additional information about developing, reviewing or certifying AIS-HACCP for your baitfish or aquaculture operation, contact Ron Kinnunen or visit the Michigan Sea Grant website.

(This article was adapted from the article The HACCP Approach to Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species by Aquaculture and Baitfish Operations by Ronald Kinnunen, Michigan Sea Grant College Program and Jeffrey Gunderson, Minnesota Sea Grant College Program)

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