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Report of the Round-Table Discussion: Moving Forward through Lessons Learned on Response Actions to Aquatic Animal Disease Emergencies, Rome, 16–18 December 2019












​FAO. 2021. Report of the Round-Table Discussion: Moving Forward through Lessons Learned on Response Actions to Aquatic Animal Disease Emergencies, Rome, 16–18 December 2019. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Report No.1333. Rome.




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    In today’s world, the risk of spread of animal health diseases, within a country or across borders, is on the rise. Contributing factors include growing animal populations, increased movement of humans and animals, market intensification and global trade. Animal health services around the world play an essential role in curbing animal disease spread. They do so by increasing their capacity to manage animal health emergencies, preparing for such events during “peacetime” and reflecting on lessons learned during the “reconstruction phase”. These actions look to enhance a country’s state of operational readiness ahead of future events. Carrying out an After Action Review (AAR) of a country’s emergency response is an integral part of learning; it provides countries with the opportunity to highlight what they have done well and what gaps remain to be filled in terms of animal health emergency management. This AAR manual outlines current practices for organizational learning and how they can be applied in the context of animal health emergencies. It details the steps to perform an animal health emergency AAR and leads readers through designing, preparing, conducting and reporting on an AAR. Veterinary services and competent authorities responsible for managing the response to animal health emergencies can apply the principles discussed in this manual to AARs at the country level – or in other settings such as producer organizations, multicountry regional commissions or international organizations.
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    The vulnerability of the Caribbean region to hydro- meteorological hazards such as hurricanes, floods, drought, high magnitude rainfall and related hazards such landslides is underscored. The recurrent impacts of these events have wreaked havoc on environment, economy and society throughout the region. Although the contribution of agriculture to Caribbean regional GDP has steadily declined over the last two decades, this sector has remained a major employer of labour and as such a main player in the livelihood profile of the region. The extreme vulnerability of the agricultural sector to a variety of hazards/disaster has been a perpetual focus of hazard/disaster management and interventions in the Caribbean. Over the past decade, the FAO has regular responded to the relief/rehabilitation/reconstruction needs of the sector in the aftermath of hurricane-related disasters. While such response and rehabilitation interventions are important, the extent of devastation caused to the agricultu ral sector by the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons stresses the need to move from a reactive to a proactive mode in order to facilitate more long term and sustainable benefits form interventions. It is in recognition of the immense negative impact of the 2004 hurricane season on the agricultural landscape of the Caribbean region and in response to the urgent call for assistant from regional policy makers, that the Food and Agricultural Organization funded the regional project Assistance to improve lo cal agricultural emergency preparedness in Caribbean countries highly prone to hydro-meteorological hazards/disasters. Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba and Grenada were among the worst affected countries by hurricane-related disasters during 2004-2005, hence the urgent need to emphasize preparedness as a mitigation strategy for the impacts of these events. While the aforementioned countries all have Disaster and Risk Management (DRM) frameworks that address preparedness and mitigation issues to different extent and involve a wide cross-section of stakeholders, there are weaknesses in linking long-term development planning within the agricultural sector with the realities and projections of recurrent natural hazards/disasters and improving preparedness and mitigation measures. Until relatively recently, DRM has followed the traditional path of emphasis at the national and regional levels with scant regard for community level needs. Over the last 5 years the Caribbean region has been experiencing a paradigm shift in this regard, with increased recognition of the importance and advantages of community-based disaster management planning. It is this approach to DRM, which was applied in the regional FAO project. The project was organized in two phases. The first evaluated the DRM framework as well as identified and documented good practices employed by Jamaican small farmers in mitigating the impacts of hydrometeorological hazards in three pilot sites as well as in the broader agro-ecolo gical environment. The second phase involved the implementation of good practices – in case of Jamaica the Hedgerow/alley cropping technique in a selected community. The implementation process was undertaken in collaboration with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority and involved the provision of technical training as well as material inputs to participating farmers while at the same time ensuring that the project outputs are sustainable. Over 90 farmers, school children and agricultural extension officers were trained in the implementation of the technique while over 60 farmers benefited form the provision of inputs. Sustainability of project outputs was integral to the implementation process and in that regard various measures were implemented to ensure expansion of the technique beyond the pilot site as well as ensure sustainability. A number of important lessons were learned from the good practice implementation process, the most significant of which related to the role of N GO’s in the implementation of community level projects. Lessons learned and recommendations arising from the project are discussed later in this report
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    Globally, there are 3 400 to 4 000 described species of marine microalgae but only 1 to 2 percent are considered to be harmful. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have significant impacts on food safety and security through contamination or mass mortalities of aquatic organisms. The impacts and mass mortalities of marine species caused by harmful algae are not new and have been recorded for decades. However, there is growing concern that these events will increase due to accelerating global warming, climate change and anthropogenic activities. Indeed, if not properly controlled, aquatic products contaminated with HAB biotoxins are responsible for potentially deadly foodborne diseases and when rapidly growing, HAB consequences include reduced dissolved oxygen in the ocean, dead zones, and mass mortalities of aquatic organisms. Improving HAB forecasting is an opportunity to develop early warning systems for HAB events such as food contamination, mass mortalities, or foodborne diseases. Surveillance systems have been developed to monitor HABs in many countries; however, the lead-time or the type of data (i.e. identification at the species-level, determination of toxicity) may not be sufficient to take effective action for food safety management measures or other reasons, such as transfer of aquaculture products to other areas. Having early warning systems could help mitigate the impact of HABs and reduce the occurrence of HAB events. The Joint FAO-IOC-IAEA technical guidance for the implementation of early warning systems (EWS) for HABs will guide competent authorities and relevant institutions involved in consumer protection or environmental monitoring to implement early warning systems for HABs present in their areas (marine and brackish waters), specifically those affecting food safety or food security (benthic HABs, fish-killing HABs, pelagic toxic HABs, and cyanobacteria HABs). The guidance provides a roadmap for stakeholders on how to improve or implement an EWS for HABs and biotoxins, where appropriate. It is important to note that not all countries and institutions can implement the same level of EWS for HABs, and this guidance is intended mainly for those who seek to broaden existing early warning systems, or who are just beginning to consider putting a system in place.

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