DEFRA-UK trains Ghanaian veterinary and fishery officers on fish health and biosecurity

This marks a significant milestone in Ghana’s quest to strengthen its aquatic health system to better protect from, detect, and respond to known and emerging aquatic diseases

A group of carefully selected officers of the Fisheries Commission of Ghana have been trained on fish health and biosecurity by Fish Health Inspectors from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), an agency of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The course was sponsored by the Animal Health System Strengthening Project (AHSS), a UK overseas development assistance project managed by Defra.

This marks a significant milestone in Ghana’s quest to strengthen its aquatic health system to better protect from, detect, and respond to known and emerging aquatic diseases.

The trained officers include Ghana’s four fishery veterinarians and 23 fisheries officers who double as extension officers but have never benefitted from any fish health and biosecurity training.

The officers are now able to promote fish disease prevention and management strategies as part of the extension services for fish farmers and promote the sustainable development of aquaculture.

As part of the week-long practically oriented activities, Cefas’ Fish Health Inspectors, engaged their Ghanaian counterparts in knowledge and skills transfer activities.

The officers engaged in a fish mortality and disease investigation scenarios at the Ghana Fisheries Commission’s Pilot Aquaculture Centre at Kona-Odumase in the Ashanti region.

Aquaculture best practice biosecurity measures were discussed and risk mitigation measures on pond and cage sites were collected and reviewed.

Issues of poor water quality, fish stocking, fish husbandry, discussions on disinfections methods (both personal and for the fish farm site), antimicrobial use and resistance (AMR), and standardised fisheries documents and templates were introduced to the officers.

Fish Disease Diagnosis Training by DEFRA’s AHSS Project for Ghana’s Fishery Veterinarians and Officers

The project has been strategically designed to provide official development assistance to strengthen animal health systems in selected sub-Saharan African Countries including Ghana, based on the highest international standards of practice. The project is tackling fish health as disease has become a serious threat to fish farming in Ghana.

The AHSS project engaged with the Aquatic Animal Health Unit of the Fisheries Commission for this significant engagement due to their shared urgency in developing robust surveillance system and strengthening their existing animal health system to counter the emerging fish diseases on the African continent.

The manager of the Aquatic Animal Health Unit of the Fisheries Commission, Mary Nkansa noted the training has come at an opportune time as Ghana race against time to ensure fish produced in Ghana are clinically healthy.

According to her, it became imperative for the Unit to train and broaden the knowledge base of the Fisheries Officers to be better positioned to deliver high standard fish health services. She further indicated the training has afforded the officers to acquire expertise, foster collaboration, and enhance their capabilities in fish health and biosecurity.

As an outcome of this training, the fisheries officers are now better able to work effectively with Ghana’s four fisheries veterinarians. Collectively their work will mean diseases are better controlled, and production of healthy fish increases.

By actively participating in the first training of such a topic in the sub-saharan African region, and leveraging international partnerships, Ghana is demonstrating its commitment to strengthening their aquatic animal health system, remarked Dr William Kuma Adu, the National Animal Health System Strengthening Lead.

On his part, the AHSS Senior Animal Health Project officer, Victus Sabutey, indicated the project is expected to further support the trained officers to develop agreed biosecurity management plans on identified farms in Ghana. Additional officers are also expected to be trained as part of the project’s ongoing collaboration with the Fish Health Unit of the Fisheries Commission of Ghana.

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