Australia's aquatic animal health policies and programs are coordinated nationally by government committees with different levels of responsibility. The committees range from those providing operational and technical advice to those responsible for higher level policy decisions. Matters are progressed to relevant committees depending on the level of decision making required. Committees have arrangements for industry consultation, which is an important part of policy and program development.
Committees with Direct Responsibilities for Aquatic Animal Health
Sub–Committee on Aquatic Animal Health (SCAAH) is an advisory committee to the Animal Health Committee (AHC). SCAAH provides scientific and technical advice to AHC on aquatic animal health issues, including national policy and program development. SCAAH considers issues including those that affect the wild capture and recreational fishing industries, aquaculture industries and the ornamental fish industry.
SCAAH comprises representation from the Australian, state and Northern Territory and New Zealand governments, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Australian Animal Health Laboratory (CSIRO AAHL) and Australian universities. SCAAH is chaired by a member of AHC.
Animal Health Committee (AHC) provides the Australian Government with strategic scientific and policy advice on animal (including aquatic animal) biosecurity matters through NBC, AGSOC and AGMIN. AHC prioritises and coordinates activities in national animal health, domestic quarantine and veterinary public health by driving the development and implementation of the government’s policy, programs, operational strategies and standards. AHC membership comprises the national, state and territory Chief Veterinary Officers; representatives from the CSIRO AAHL; Department of Agriculture and Water Resources; Animal Health Australia; the Australian Government Department of Environment; and New Zealand.
Committees with High Level Policy Responsibility for Aquatic Animal Health
Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN, formerly the Standing Council on Primary Industries; Primary Industries Ministerial Council, and the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council) comprises Commonwealth, state, territory and New Zealand ministers with responsibility for primary industries matters, and is chaired by the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. AGMIN pursues and monitors priority issues of national significance affecting Australia’s primary production sectors.
Agriculture Senior Officials Committee (AGSOC, formerly the Primary Industries Standing Committee) supports AGMIN in the achievement of its objectives by developing cooperative and coordinated approaches to matters of concern to the Committee. It comprises the CEOs of Australian, state, territory and New Zealand government agencies responsible for primary industries policy matters, to assist decision making on issues of national significance affecting primary industries.
The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) is an advisory committee to AGSOC that provides strategic leadership in managing national approaches to emerging and ongoing biosecurity policy issues across jurisdictions and sectors. Membership of the NBC comprises senior representatives from the Commonwealth, state and territory primary industry or environment departments. The Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources chairs the NBC as a member of AGSOC.
Committees with an Interest in Aquatic Animal Health
The National Aquatic Animal Health Industry Reference Group (NAAHIRG) comprises representatives of key aquaculture, capture fisheries, recreational fisheries and ornamental fish industry sectors, with observers from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram and AHC. NAAHIRG considers issues of aquatic animal health from the perspective of industry to provide appropriate advice to SCAAH and AHC, and is therefore a key pathway for communication between industry sectors and government.
The Australian Fisheries Management Forum (AFMF) comprises heads or CEOs of the Commonwealth, state and territory agencies responsible for fisheries. The AFMF discusses issues relating to fisheries management.
Aquaculture Committee (AC) reports to the AFMF on aquaculture issues relevant to the Australian aquaculture industry. The Aquaculture Committee comprises aquaculture managers from the Commonwealth, state and territory fisheries agencies and includes observers from the FRDC, CSIRO and the National Aquaculture Council (an industry grouping).