CVMA | Documents | Aquatic Animal Veterinary Medicine - Position Statment

Aquatic Animal Veterinary Medicine - Position Statment

January 21, 2016


The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) recognizes that veterinarians are mandated to perform activities that contribute to the health and welfare of aquatic species used for food, as with other species of animals. In addition the CVMA recognizes the contributions of aquatic animal professionals and technical experts in this regard.

It is the position of the CVMA that veterinarians must play a lead role in aquatic animal health and welfare management, including disease prevention and control, diagnosis of diseases, implementation of biosecurity programs and food safety. The CVMA supports veterinarians in the proper and prudent use, prescribing of therapeutants, vaccines, and other health- related products.

The CVMA supports veterinary involvement in food safety including the inspection of products derived from aquatic animal production as for other food animal production.

The CVMA encourages continuing education programs, health management programs and curricula focused on aquatic animal species and aquaculture at veterinary colleges.


  1. Veterinarians play a pivotal role in the health and welfare of animals, including aquatic species;
  1. Veterinarians play a key role in assuring the production of aquaculture products are safe for human consumption and appropriately certified to meet international trade requirements. This also requires contributions from both governmental and private sectors, as well as aquatic animal health professionals and other partners.
  1. Aquatic animal production is a vast and rapidly expanding sector involving a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate species, including finfish, crustaceans, mollusks, in food producing aquaculture and fisheries. It also includes marine mammals, reptiles, amphibians, ornamental species and others although all of these lie outside the scope of this position statement.
  1. Canadian veterinarians practice aquatic animal medicine in various fields including: private client animal treatment, commercial fish farms, stock enhancement hatcheries, academic research and teaching, municipal marine parks, public aquaria and government regulatory programs; involving veterinary medical disciplines of clinical diagnoses, pathology, pharmacology, vaccinology, epidemiology, preventative medicine, laboratory animal medicine, toxicology, as well as seafood inspection and regulations;
  1. Canadian consumers, food animal producers and trading partners rely on veterinarians in order to ensure that appropriate preventive and therapeutic products are used in animals and that foods of animal origin are safe;
  1. Veterinarians provide essential expertise in regional and national aquatic animal health and disease surveillance programs supporting protection of aquatic animal resources and international seafood trade;
  1. Veterinarians assist in sustainable aquatic animal production and are involved in the  protection of the aquatic environment and wild stocks, protection of public health and socio-economic development;
  1. CVMA and aquatic animal veterinarians support the National Aquatic Animal Health Program (NAAHP) and are actively working to ensure that aquatic animal policies, programs, regulations and legislation that exist or develop, and involve the charge of the profession, are  consistent with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s existing policies, programs, regulations and legislation dealing with “terrestrial” animals. The CVMA, when necessary, also engages with Provinces and federal government bodies to provide advice on appropriate aquatic animal health policy and legislation.

(Revised November 2015)

[1]   For the purposes of this position statement “aquatic animal” refers to any aquatic species used for food, with the exception of marine mammals.