Tactical Research Fund: Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram: establishment of the Aquatic Animal Health Technical Forum

Project Number:



CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory

Principal Investigator:

Lynette Williams

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





There are technicians in various locations within Australia who have a diverse range of skills and experience in the aquatic animal health area. These skills are valuable to all involved and perhaps they should be demonstrated/discussed and information exchanged in an informal but structured forum. As the “aquatic” discipline does not involve as many people as the terrestrial laboratory field there is not as much exchange of information, techniques and outputs. Some staff feel that they are on their own and are even intimidated to ask or don’t know where to go or whom to ask for input or assistance. Although not all aquatic techniques are “unique” there are some aspects specific to aquatic technical skills and procedures. Providing the opportunity for aquatic animal health technical staff to interact, establish networks and exchange ideas and information would enhance Australian laboratories’ capabilities to provide high quality services to stakeholders. This group would provide valuable technical knowledge, additional sources of information and mentoring to other laboratory technicians, students and staff at teaching institutes. The funds are requested to assist technical staff to travel to the AAHS Cairns conference (July 2009) to particiapte in a technical forum and a workshop to be held in March 2010.


1. Establish an email discussion group initially consisting of contacts from known aquatic animal health laboratories.

2. Develop a current listing of active aquatic animal health technicians and their capabilities.

3. Organise an inaugural meeting of potential forum participants attending the AAHS Cairns conference, July 2009.

4. Following the inaugural meeting prepare an operational plan for the further development of the forum.

5. Plan a workshop in March 2010, including technical presentations and a business meeting.

6. Review the effectiveness of the forum (eg. level of participation and participant feedback on benefits for professional development).

Final Report - 2008/357 - Establishment of the Aquatic Animal Health Technical Forum.

Final Report
ISBN:978 0 643 10170 8
Author(s):Lynette Williams
Date Published:November 2011

Principal Investigator: Lynette Williams and Mark  Crane


Key Words: Aquatic animal health; diagnostics; technology transfer, technical forum and skills development.



An inaugural meeting of the forum was convened at the Fourth National FRDC Aquatic Animal Health Scientific Conference held in July 2009 and the concept received strong support from the then current forum members as well as other conference participants. Consequently, a second meeting incorporating an Aquatic Animal Health Technical Workshop was planned for the following year. This was convened at CSIRO Livestock Industries, Geelong in March 2010. Eighteen participants played an active role in ensuring the success of the workshop in that there was open and frank discussion of issues in an informal, non-competitive environment.

Over the course of the workshop it was clear that a good rapport developed among the participants and, in addition to facilitating transfer of technical information, the workshop also provided a means to build trust among the forum members. While the forum has only been operating for a short time, with further promotion, the likelihood is that it will grow and develop into an essential part of the national aquatic animal diagnostic laboratory network. The forum also provides the participants with professional and personal development opportunities. The enhanced skills and expertise gained by 18 participants in the forum is likely to form an important part of laboratory staff training and competency development which are important aspects of National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation for veterinary testing laboratories.

In summary, in its short life to date the forum has been able to enhance aquatic animal health outputs, strengthen the national network of aquatic animal health experts and research providers and provide a training opportunity for young scientists interested in aquatic animal health