Monitoring activities are an important element in any comprehensive aquatic animal health effort. Critical observation and recording of biological and non-biological parameters, standardized record keeping, data analysis, and timely communication of results are all key elements of monitoring. Health monitoring of a population can encompass periodic inspection of a statistically-based number of samples, diagnostic efforts during a disease incident, frequent examination of animals and environmental conditions for the detection of sub-acute health problems, and surveys of wild stocks. It is through a well conceived monitoring effort that timely, pro-active management can be performed.
A monitoring program is designed to gather specific data on aquatic animal health which will support national and regional management objectives. The ecosystem management approach of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is supported by surveillance of select species within an ecosystem. Fish Health monitoring will complement other surveillance efforts for aquatic animals. Aquatic animal monitoring is not restricted to pathogen detection but also includes physiological and environmental parameters. These activities can provide better baseline pathogen and health data on the various life stages of both wild and artificially propagated populations that is vital for sound management decisions.
The frequent monitoring of pathogens, environmental conditions, nutrition, and physiological parameters are essential to detect and solve problems before significant mortality occurs. Monitoring will promote and help evaluate good fish culture and fishery management practices. Resource biologists, hatchery managers, states, tribes, and the public will benefit through increased knowledge, evaluation and survival of populations that are important for restoration, recovery, supplementation, and production.