The National Aquatic Animal Health Plan (NAAHP) was developed in response to the growing need for a coordinated government effort to ensure aquatic animal health. Officials from federal, state, local, and tribal governments have been working in partnership with aquaculture and other interested stakeholders for the last several years to develop the NAAHP.
The NAAHP is the summation of ideas on how the federal government, in collaboration with stakeholders, should develop policies, programs and potential regulations to address aquatic animal diseases in order to benefit aquaculture and aquatic animal resources in the United States. Two primary drivers were the growing need to protect domestic commerce and resources and the advent of new health regulations by foreign governments that restrict the import of live and processed aquatic animals from the United States.
The federal agencies with primary responsibility for aquatic animal health are the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Animal and Plant Health Inspections Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) through the NOAA Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These agencies are leading the development and implementation of the NAAHP from the federal perspective and under the auspices of the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA), a federal interagency coordinating group. However, agencies recognize the necessity of partnerships and collaboration for NAAHP efforts to be successful.
The need for a comprehensive national aquatic health plan has long been identified as a high priority issue by the federal Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture. Authorized by the National Aquaculture Act of 1980, the subcommittee is composed of representatives from the federal agencies that participate in, regulate, and manage aquaculture activities in the United States. In 2001, the subcommittee requested that the federal agencies responsible for managing the health of aquatic animals develop a national plan.
Following a series of regional stakeholder meetings, officials from the three main federal agencies responsible for U.S. aquaculture began work on co-authoring a draft plan with extensive input from stakeholders.
The draft NAAHP was approved by the three federal agencies and was made available for public review and comment in 2009. The NAAHP is a guidance document and not regulation. The NAAHP is a "living" plan that is flexible to meet needs as they arise. The NAAHP will be updated every five years and will account for submitted recommendations.