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A National Consultation on Acute Hepatopancreatic Necrosis Disease (AHPND) also called as Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) was held on 16th June 2016 in Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA), Chennai. Stakeholders including shrimp hatchery operators, farmers, input providers, aquaculture professionals, academicians and scientists participated in the deliberation. India with an EMS free status, the workshop was conducted to review the present status of AHPND in other countries, its impact on the shrimp aquaculture and to develop a National Action Plan to prevent the possible introduction of the bacterial pathogen causing EMS to India. In his opening speech, Dr. KK Vijayan, Director, CIBA stressed the sophisticated quarantine mechanisms in place to prevent the entry of the infected shrimps and improved targeted surveillance. He highlighted the role to be played by each of the stakeholders from hatchery operators, farmers, input providers, the aquatic quarantine requirements, aquatic animal health specialists in the prevention of emergence of diseases in aquaculture. The Chief Guest of the programme, Dr. P. Ravichandran, Member Secretary, Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA) highlighted the role of better management practices or BMPs in sustainable aquaculture production. He explained the role of CAA in monitoring aquaculture practices along with CIBA for sustainable farming. Shri Tarun Kumar Singh, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries, Government of India, New Delhi explained the necessity of the national consultation organised under the aegis of Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Dr SV Alavandi, Principal Scientist and Head, Aquatic Animal Health and Environmental Division of CIBA, later on, made a presentation on the National Action Plan for prevention of emergence of EMS/AHPND, which is made available for all the stakeholders, also available at CIBA website. During the consultation, experts made presentations on the role of aquatic animal quarantine, the role of coastal aquaculture authority (CAA) in national action plans on emerging shrimp diseases, and FAO Aquatic Animal Health (AAH) capacity and performance, self-assessment survey.

Since 2009, EMS or AHPND has been severely affecting shrimp farming in the countries in the Southeast Asian region. The disease mainly affected Pacific white shrimps, characterized by mass mortalities during the first 20-35 days of culture. It was first reported from China in 2009, followed by Vietnam in 2010, Malaysia in 2011, and in Thailand since 2012. Considering the severity of the disease, several meetings coordinated by Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and others, involving international shrimp health experts, regional governments and industry shared information on this emerging disease, its occurrence, pathology and diagnosis, and developed a coordinated regional response. The causative agent was identified in 2013 as a bacterial agent, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, carrying a specific toxin on a specific extra-chromosomal DNA.

Better management practices or BMPs and proactive and responsible culture practices to control the emergence of diseases such as AHPND were highlighted during the consultation. All the stakeholders involved in shrimp farming need to make concerted efforts for sustainability of the aquaculture industry.