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The main regulatory activi​ties of the AAHL include developing, reviewing, and administering fish health regulatory mechanisms. 
  • Maintain compliance with federal laws applying to the use of drug therapies in fish, notification of reportable diseases, compliance with the Lacey Act and National Aquaculture Act, and other federal requirements. 

  • Advise and participate in internal policy and directives for issues involving aquatic animal health, culture, transportation, prohibited species, aquatic nuisance species (ANS), and related issues. 

  • Advise the Fish Health Board and Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission concerning development of regulations to protect state fisheries. 

  • Administer stocking regulations and importation of aquatic organisms. 

  • Review and approve Colorado Department of Agriculture aquaculture permits. 

  • Direct quarantine and disinfection of disease-contaminated facilities and provide input on facility design or redesign to prevent recontamination.

Disease Testing

J. Tarman looking through microscopeThe main disease testing activities of the AAHL include providing for hatchery and feral fish disease testing and surveillance. 
  • Conduct annual on-site inspections of fish in aquaculture facilities and watersheds for the presence of viral, bacterial, and parasitic pathogens.  Per state regulations, these inspections are required prior to movement of fish from one site to another. 

  • Investigate and diagnose disease outbreaks or fish kills in cultured or free-ranging public and private fish populations caused by pathogenic organisms, nutrition, and/or environmental conditions. 

  • Provide support services for research activities involving aquaculture, feral and wild fish populations, and other activities conducted in the state by Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists and researchers, university researchers, private entities, and other government agencies. 

  • Serve as Monitor for the Investigational New Animal Drug (INAD) program at state aquaculture facilities. 

  • Collaborate with other fish diagnostic facilities including the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bozeman Fish Health Center, the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Auburn University/USDA Fish Health Laboratory, Pisces Molecular, the Fish Health Branch of the USGS Leetown Science center, University of California, Davis, Cornell University Aquatic Animal Health Program, and others.

Disease Management

The main disease management activities of the AAHL include conducting aquatic species disease assessments and monitoring, and conducting health management programs. 
  • Approve or prohibit movement and stocking of fish or invertebrates within the state to prevent spread of potential disease or aquatic nuisance species (ANS). 

  • Develop and maintain a statewide disease and treatment history database for use in disease tracking and management decisions. 

  • Assist in development and application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans (HACCP) and other Best Management Plans to prevent development or spread of disease and ANS. 

  • Provide laboratory support for early detection of ANS including specimens collected from watercraft and plankton tows and oversee hatchery ANS inspection and certification. 

  • Develop contingency and rapid response plans to invasion by ANS and emerging fish disease threats.

  • Conduct statewide free-ranging fish health inspections.

Public Education

Fish education in classroomThe main educational activities of the AAHL include conducting education and technical workshops for internal and external customers to inform and obtain assistance in maintaining fish health programs. ​
  • Conduct and advise public education and training in areas of prevention and spread of disease and ANS. 

  • Present fish health management short courses for Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff, colleges, and private fish culturists. 

  • Develop and distribute dichotomous keys, field guides, and educational brochures for invertebrates, aquatic organisms, and emerging diseases. 

  • Encourage, advise, and assist in educational aquaculture projects, including collaboration with Trout Unlimited’s Trout in the Classroom project.