The Huon Veterinary Health Plan (VHP) encompasses all areas of fish health and welfare. It aims to identify and define management and husbandry protocols and procedures throughout the life cycle targeted at best practice. The VHP was developed with broad staff involvement and will be regularly reviewed and updated to promote continuous improvement in all areas.
A VHP promotes a well thought through and comprehensive approach to farm operations that have potential to impact negatively on fish health and welfare. The VHP serves several functions:
- Broad staff participation which:
- Increases the likelihood that the most practical and effective measures are identified
- Gives ownership of agreed protocols and procedures, increasing likely staff compliance
- Promotes ongoing input from staff into seeking improvements
- A clear and effective education resource for training staff
- A clear reference on which internal and external auditing can be based. It is critical that agreed measures are adhered to
- A clear ongoing basis for regular review and continual improvement.
Protocols and procedures aim to:
- Maintain the good health and welfare of farmed stock through promoting a strong immune system, good physical condition, low stress/low impact handling, good nutrition and optimal growing environment
- Avoid the introduction of new or exotic diseases into farmed stock
- Minimise the spread and impact of diseases already present.
The process of preparing a comprehensive VHP with the serious intent to implement all the biosecurity measures outlined has met resistance by some staff and suppliers as does any change. However, through reinforcing the message and ongoing education on fish health and biosecurity matters, better understanding have led to increased participation despite the added burden biosecurity places on daily tasks. Just like wearing seatbelts eventually it all makes sense and becomes routine.