The Australian government biosecurity committee structure has recently undergone a major change with the development of AusBioSec (http://www.daff.gov.au/animal-plant-health/pests-diseases-weeds/biosecurity/ausbiosec). As part of this restructure, as of July 2009 Aquatic Animal Health Committee (AAHC) will cease to exist and it’s roles and responsibilities will be subsumed into Animal Health Committee (AHC). AAH technical expertise to AHC will continue to be provided by the National Aquatic Animal Health Technical Working Group (NAAHTWG). However, while AAHC included industry representation, AHC does not. For terrestrial animals, and plants, industry representation comes with membership to Animal Health Australia (AHA) and Plant Health Australia (PHA), respectively. However, there is no such entity for aquatic animal industries. This lack of industry input into AAH policy development has not been lost on AHC and it has advised that it would consider advice from an industry reference group (IRG). AHC has provided some advice on the terms of reference and priority issues for the IRG.
In order to be able to provide this advice industry must first decide whether or not there is sufficient resolve in each sector to commit to self-funding participation in an “National Aquatic Animal Health Industry Reference Group” (NAAHIRG).
It is this last point for which this application is based. The four sectors (wild-capture, aquaculture, ornamental and recreational) are seeking seed funding from FRDC to support a face-to-face meeting for industry representatives to discuss formation of an AAHIRG.
The need and urgency that has prompted this TRF application revolves around the threat of policy development without industry input. This point gains more significance upon release of the Beale report on Australia’s biosecurity arrangements and the Government’s response agreeing ‘in-principle’ to all the recommendations. Industry has to decide sooner rather than later whether it wishes to be a part of future AAH policy development.