Aquaculture animals and products thereof

This Directive updates, recasts and consolidates the animal health rules in relation to the trade in aquaculture products (fish, molluscs and crustaceans), including prevention and control of diseases affecting these animals and their products.

Council Directive 2006/88/EC of 24 October 2006 on animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products thereof, and on the prevention and control of certain diseases in aquatic animals.


The Directive establishes:

  • animal health requirements for the placing on the market, importation and transit of aquaculture animals and their products;
  • minimum measures to prevent diseases in aquaculture animals;
  • minimum measures to be taken in response to suspected or established cases of certain diseases in aquatic animals.

The animals concerned are fish, molluscs and crustaceans and their products, not including ornamental animals bred in an aquarium not intended for sale, wild animals introduced directly into the food chain and animals intended for the production of fish meal, fish oils and similar products. Ornamental animals not in direct contact with natural waters or which live in treated water systems are only concerned by the rules on prevention and treatment of the diseases.


of aquaculture production businesses and processing establishments

The Directive provides for the authorisation of farms and processing establishments by the relevant authority in their Member State.

In order to obtain this authorisation, farms and establishments must keep a register that includes details of movements of animals and products, implement good hygiene practices and, in the case of fish farms and mollusc farming areas, apply a risk-based animal health surveillance scheme.

List of diseases

The Directive provides for a list of exotic and non-exotic diseases and a list of species sensitive to them. The diseases on this list have substantial economic repercussions or an adverse effect on the environment of wild aquatic animals.

Exotic diseases are those that are not established in Community aquaculture and whose pathogen is not present in Community waters. These include the following diseases: epizootic haemopoietic necrosis, infection with Bonamia exitiosa, infection with Xenohaliotis californiensis, Taura syndrome, or even yellowhead disease.

Non-exotic diseases included on the list are: spring viraemia of carp, viral haemorrhagic septicaemia, infectious haemopoietic hecrosis, herpes virus infection, infectious salmon anaemia, infection with Marteilia refringens, infection with Bonamia ostreae, and white spot disease.

Disease-free status

The territory of a state or a part thereof can be declared free of a non-exotic disease if no species sensitive to that disease is present there or if the State has had surveillance and detection measures in place for a sufficiently long period of time. Moreover, the state must also create buffer zones between its territory and the territory of neighbouring states that have not been declared disease-free areas.

The Commission draws up, updates and publishes the list of disease-free states and areas.

Placing on the market

The Directive makes provision for general rules for the transport and traceability of animals (animal health certification). It also includes animal health conditions for animals and their products intended for breeding or restocking, with particular reference to whether their region of origin has disease-free status and the obligation in some cases for them to be kept in quarantine. Other specific conditions relate to animals and their products intended for human consumption, particularly their health status, and hygiene in processing and temporary storage establishments. Some rules relate to wild aquatic animals, which must normally spend a period of time in quarantine when they are reintroduced into disease-free areas, and ornamental animals.


of aquaculture animals and their products into the Community from third countries

Third countries or parts of third countries authorised to export into the Community must appear on a list drawn up by the Commission. These countries or parts of countries are placed on the list once an evaluation has been carried out by the Commission to assess, among other things, the state of health of aquatic animals there, the legislation of the country in question, and the organisation of the relevant local authority and inspection services. Commission experts can if necessary carry out on-the-spot inspections to complement the evaluation.

Consignments of imported animals or products must be accompanied by an animal health certificate attesting that the consignments meet Community requirements.

Notification and minimum measures for control of diseases

When there is reason to suspect the presence of a disease listed by the Commission or when increased mortality occurs in aquatic animals, the responsible authority in the Member State must immediately consult with professionals in the field with regard to the health of and trade in the aquatic animals. The affected Member State must notify the Commission, the other Member States and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states of the presence of a listed exotic disease within 24 hours, and of the presence of a listed non-exotic disease if the affected area has been declared free of this disease.

The Directive makes provision for measures to be taken in response to the suspected presence of a listed disease, specifically the examination of samples by an authorised laboratory, a ban on movements of aquatic animals into and out of the infected farm and the carrying out of epizootic investigations.

In the event of confirmation of a listed exotic disease, a containment area must be set up around the infected farm, together with a ban on movements of animals. Furthermore, all dead animals, live animals exhibiting clinical signs of the disease and animals which have not reached commercial size and do not exhibit clinical signs of the disease must be removed and disposed of in an appropriate timeframe. The harvesting, catching and subsequent processing of animals may continue once treatment can take place in conditions that prevent the spread of the pathogen. The infected farm may be required to undergo an appropriate period of fallowing.

In the event of confirmation of a listed non-exotic disease in an area declared free of that disease, the affected Member State must either implement the same measures as for contamination with an exotic disease, or apply minimum measures of containment and restriction of movement, and remove and dispose of dead animals.

In the event of suspicion or confirmation of contamination of wild animals with a listed disease, the affected Member State must monitor the situation and implement the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

If an emerging disease develops, the Member State must take the necessary steps to prevent the disease from spreading and inform the Commission and the other Member States of the situation. Where necessary, the list of diseases will be amended as a result.

Vaccinations are normally prohibited, unless they are part of a Commission-approved control and eradication programme, are being used to control an emerging disease, or have been authorised by the Commission where the epizootic situation requires it.


This Directive meets the need to update legislation on the health of aquatic animals with regard to developments in aquaculture, international experience and scientific progress. This Directive focuses on the prevention of epizootic diseases in order to reduce financial losses due to the diseases themselves and trade restrictions. It aims in particular at improving exchange both within the Community and with third countries by bringing the rules on the placing on the market of aquaculture animals and their products into line with the standards established by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

This Directive repeals Directives 91/67/EEC and 93/53/EEC concerning the animal health conditions governing aquaculture animals and products as from 1st August 2008.

Placing on the market of aquaculture animals and products

The European Union has created a secure monitoring framework for placing on the market and importing aquaculture animals and products. This framework is based on the approval of disease-free regions and on categorising different types of diseases to which different health rules will apply.

Council Directive 91/67/EEC of 28 January 1991 concerning the animal health conditions governing the placing on the market of aquaculture animals and products [See amending acts]

This Directive creates a framework designed to overcome obstacles to trade in aquaculture animals while at the same time avoiding the spread of infectious diseases, particularly in disease-free regions of the European Union.
This framework is based on the identification of zones or farms that are free from serious endemic disease. The Directive lays down the criteria and procedures for the granting, maintenance, suspension, restoration and withdrawal of approval of such zones and farms.

It also stipulates the documents required for transport within these zones: aquaculture animals and products must be accompanied by a movement document and a health certificate.

The Directive also lays down Community rules applying to importation from non-member countries in order to protect the health of aquaculture animals in the Member States.

The diseases and the animals likely to be affected are set out in three separate lists:
• an exotic disease, infectious salmon anaemia, for which all infected fish are destroyed as quickly as possible and any suspected cases of infection lead to a ban on animal movements not authorised by a veterinarian;
• four serious endemic diseases which must be eradicated in the long term: infectious haematopoietic necrosis and viral haemorrhagic septicaemia for fish, and bonamiosis and marteiliosis for molluscs;
• some less dangerous diseases for which control and eradication measures are less stringent.
This Directive will be repealed and replaced from 1 August 2008 by Council Directive 2006/88/EC (see “Related Acts” below).


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