Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A simple model to rank shellfish farming areas based on the risk of disease introduction and spread.

Abstract

The European Union Council Directive 2006/88/EC requires that risk-based surveillance (RBS) for listed aquatic animal diseases is applied to all aquaculture production businesses. The principle behind this is the efficient use of resources directed towards high-risk farm categories, animal types and geographic areas. To achieve this requirement, fish and shellfish farms must be ranked according to their risk of disease introduction and spread. We present a method to risk rank shellfish farming areas based on the risk of disease introduction and spread and demonstrate how the approach was applied in 45 shellfish farming areas in England and Wales. Ten parameters were used to inform the risk model, which were grouped into four risk themes based on related pathways for transmission of pathogens: (i) live animal movement, (ii) transmission via water, (iii) short distance mechanical spread (birds) and (iv) long distance mechanical spread (vessels). Weights (informed by expert knowledge) were applied both to individual parameters and to risk themes for introduction and spread to reflect their relative importance. A spreadsheet model was developed to determine quantitative scores for the risk of pathogen introduction and risk of pathogen spread for each shellfish farming area. These scores were used to independently rank areas for risk of introduction and for risk of spread. Thresholds were set to establish risk categories (low, medium and high) for introduction and spread based on risk scores. Risk categories for introduction and spread for each area were combined to provide overall risk categories to inform a risk-based surveillance programme directed at the area level. Applying the combined risk category designation framework for risk of introduction and spread suggested by European Commission guidance for risk-based surveillance, 4, 10 and 31 areas were classified as high, medium and low risk, respectively.