In 2003, the European Union (EU) implemented animal health conditions and disease freedom certification requirements for imports of live shellfish products. This decision had an immediate economic impact on the BC shellfish industry and it highlighted, for Canada, the implications of the absence of a systematic, coordinated shellfish health program. Subsequently, under the umbrella of Canada’s National Aquatic Animal Health Program (NAAHP), the BCSGA has commenced establishment a provincial shellfish health program in an effort to meet export requirements and to better manage the health of BC shellfish stocks.


In 2006, the BCSGA commissioned a report to outline the industry components of the BC shellfish AAHP.Karreman (2006) advised that the high priority components included: (1) development of a Shellfish Health Code of Practice, template Standard Operating Procedures, and template Shellfish Health Management Plans (drafts complete Spring 2007); (2) shellfish health training for producers (basic) and technicians (commencing Fall 2007); and (3) a federal surveillance pilot project, led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) (commencing Fall of 2006 and ongoing for two years).


The objective of the surveillance pilot project is to provide evidence of disease freedom for the Manila clam (Venerupis philippinarum) and Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) industries in BC for a list of 12 OIE listed pathogens. In the Fall 2006 sampling period, a total of 423 samples were collected (293 Manila clams and 130 Pacific oysters). No pathogens or abnormalities were noted in any of the screened samples. This number of samples (423) fell short of the planned sample size due to delays in commencement of sampling, limited initial lab capacity at DFO, and a limited number of opportunities to conduct sampling in conjunction with CFIA fish plant inspections. While some these limiting factors have been addressed for the Spring and Fall 2007 sampling periods under the local leadership of Dr Andrea Osborn (CFIA Area Veterinary Specialist) there remain significant ongoing logistical and regulatory challenges.