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Implementing a HACCP protocol to an active fish-farm: the need, the advantages, the way to do it

Having a fish farm could be a huge responsibility: not only a financial one (which will be discussed in another article), but also a public-health responsibility.

The fish that are growing in the farm find themselves eventually on plates all over the country, or in larger cases – all around the globe.

When things go wrong (and no doubt they will), for example, if contamination runs through the fish to the final costumer, it could make a huge harm: both – to the costumers who were affected, which is very bad in one way, and to the of the producer, or even worse – to the aquaculture industry as a whole (locally or with a wider effect), which is problematic from a different point of view.

So – the responsibility is combined: first is to the costumers, and second is for the industry. And everyone who grows fish, everyone who supplies to the industry, everyone around the industry must keep that in mind.

But – and this is very important to understand – since we are dealing with humans, mistakes could happen, or even bad intentions and malicious acts can occur.

To avoid that, or at least to minimize it as much as possible, it is important to have a working protocol that will always challenge the fish-grower with new thinking and different points of view.

The most fitted protocol in this case, up to my perspective, is a HACCP protocol. The main reason for that is the fact that by definition, HACCP protocol is a "live" protocol, that always needs to be examined and tested, and always needs to evolve and change over time and actions.

How do we start?

First things first – we will need to perform a risks assessment, or a risk survey. This survey will need to include all the risk factors from all around the area of the farm (e.g. a river close by, all the plants with spills around the area, feed safety, weather change affect, fingerling source and many other parameters and activities all around the farm's location).

After finding all the optional pollution cause options – now we need to quantify the probability and the severity of the pollution from that specific source.

Once we've done that, we can grade all the pollution sources from high probability/high severity to low probability/low severity, and as for that grading, we will know how to treat every optional pollution source in the HACCP protocol.

Next step is to make sure we have full traceability tracking for every production unit, so we know exactly where the fish came from (hatchery, source cages, other site etc.), and by that we will know what is the probability of getting polluted during the lifetime of the fish.

Having all the above done – now it's the time to understand what checks need to be taken, either from the fish or from the water around, and maybe even from the soil underneath the cage or the soil around the pond. It all depends on the results of the risk survey.

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