Aquatic Animal Health & Biosecurity

About the Aquatic Animal Health & Biosecurity Subprogram

An Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram was established in 2001 to provide a cohesive and national approach to aquatic animal health research and development in Australia. The development of the subprogram was an initiative of AQUAPLAN (Australia’s National Strategic Plan for Aquatic Animal Health – see below) under Program 6: Research and Development.

Through an agreement between Department of Agriculture and the FRDC it was assured that the subprogram continued through to 2008 and with a further commitment from FRDC the subprogram coninued through to 2016. The subprogram expanded its scope to include biosecurity in 2016 and has secured funding through to 2020.


Scope and objectives

The Subprogram is responsible for coordinating FRDC-funded research and development aimed at addressing priorities within the field of aquatic animal health and biosecurity, with a focus on infectious diseases of aquatic animals and excluding issues concerning invasive pests, food safety or toxicology.

The AAH&BS has an annual budget for R&D (in 2015-16 this was around $400K),  which  places limits on the scope and scale of projects that can be supported. The subprogram normally supports several projects each round.

The Subprogram adopts a special responsibility for national health and biosecurity-related research, and research to address issues of new and emerging aquaculture species. R&D that is aimed primarily at specific industry or regional needs, would require an appropriate level of co-funding from industry or other source to be suported with subprogram funds.

The subprogram also manages other funds for extension and communication activities including a biennial conference and Health Highlights Newsletter.

The Subprogram's key objectives are to:

  1. Provide leadership, coordination. management and planning for aquatic animal health and biosecurity research and development
  2. With other stakeholders, set and review national priorities of aquatic animal health and biosecurity research
  3. Oversee the communication, extension and adoption of results of FRDC aquatic animal health and biosecurity research projects.

Subprogram management

The Aquatic Animal Health and Biosecurity Subprogram (AAHBS) is managed by an expertise - based steering and scientific committee, appointed by the FRDC. In addition to its leadership and strategic roles, the committee advises the FRDC on allocation of subprogram funds to projects consistent with stakeholder priorities and relevant R&D plans; actively overees progress of projects under its direct management; and provides technical advice to the FRDC on issues, applications and projects beyond those under its management.


White spot Update

White spot disease (WSD) is an internationally notifiable disease of crustaceans caused by White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV). On 22nd November 2016 a WSSV incursion was first reported in Black Tiger Prawns (Penaeus monodon) cultured on a prawn farm (1IP) taking water from the Logan River, SE QLD.

In response to the WSD outbreak FRDC quickly implemented the following projects to support the prawn farming industry and provide clear direction towards planning for future recovery for affected farms and fisheries; and protecting the biosecurity of areas away from the Logan River control zone.

AAHS Health Highlights Newsletter

The Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram produces a regular Health Highlights Newsletter:



AQUAPLAN is Australia’s National Strategic Plan for Aquatic Animal Health 2014–2019. The strategy outlines the objectives, projects, emergency preparedness and response arrangements for the management of aquatic animal health in Australia.

AQUAPLAN was developed and formally endorsed by the Commonwealth and State/Territory governments and the private sector. The development of AQUAPLAN and the implementation of its projects are overseen by the Ministerially appointed Fish Health Management Committee (FHMC).  

AAHS and Disease Related Websites

Contacts – Aquatic Animal Health


Subprogram Leader Mark Crane
Tel: 03 5227 5118

Subprogram Coordinator Joanne Slater
Tel: 03 5227 5427
Fax: 03 5227 5555

Postal Address:
CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory
AAHL Fish Diseases Laboratory
Private Bag 24

Delivery Address:
CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory
AAHL Fish Diseases Laboratory
5 Portarlington Road