Fish Health Background

Northern Ireland has a high fish health status due to natural factors such as its island location, temperate climate and low number of native species.

Controls on imports and enforcement

Northern Ireland also has a history of strict controls on imports and enforcement of fish health legislative controls designed to prevent the introduction and spread of fish disease. Consequently it enjoys freedom from many of the transmissible diseases of salmonids.

Many of Northern Ireland's disease control measures are subject to the European Union Fish Health Regime which sets firm rules throughout the Community to safeguard areas of proven health status such as Northern Ireland. These rules are based on import controls and disease containment measures and prohibit the import of fish from areas of lower health status.

DAERA introduced the Aquatic Animal Health Regulations (NI) 2009 in March 2009. These regulations implement Council Directive 2006/88/EC on aquatic animal health.

Introduction to fish health

All Aquaculture Production Businesses or processing establishments processing aquaculture animals for disease control purposes must be authorised. All Put and Take and Non-Commercial Installations must be registered.

Controlling fish disease

DAERA is responsible for the control of fish disease in Northern Ireland under the Aquatic Animal Health Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009.

In carrying out these responsibilities, DAERA undertake a routine inspection and sampling programme covering all aquaculture production businesses (APBs) in Northern Ireland.  DAERA also carry out routine sampling of wild fish stocks; inspect all live fish and shellfish destined for export from Northern Ireland; and issue movement documentation in line with EU rules.

DAERA also inspect imports of fish into Northern Ireland to ensure compliance with these rules.

Where DAERA has reason to believe that any waters are infected with a notifiable disease, the Department has powers to take certain measures to prevent, control and eradicate the disease. These powers extend to both wild fishery and marine and inland fish farms in Northern Ireland.

Disease free status

Under the EU fish health regime, Northern Ireland has disease free status in respect of the listed fish diseases: Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS), Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA), Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis (IHN), Koi Herpes virus and from the listed shellfish diseases and Bonamia (except in Lough Foyle and Strangford Lough). Northern Ireland has also obtained Additional Guarantees in respect of the fish diseases Spring Viraemia of Carp (SVC), Gyrodactylus Salaries (GS) and Bacterial Kidney Disease (BKD). 

Three ornamental facilities in Northern Ireland are declared disease free compartments for KHV – Glenkrag Ltd, Causeway Koi and Clearly Aquatics.  Further details can be found on the Public Register of Authorised Production Businesses.

Disease status of Member States is set out in Commission Decision 2009/177/EC.


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