DECEMBER 19, 2005 - Posted at 7:49 a.m. CST
CULLER, AR - Arkansas farmers are among the leading producers in the country of bait and ornamental fish, so, naturally, they've become involved in making sure the fish remain free of destructive diseases. Several producers are participating in efforts to develop a national aquatic animal health plan.
Mike Freeze, co-owner of Keo Fish Farms in Lonoke County and vice president of the National Aquaculture Association, is participating in the effort. He says the differing state regulations currently create a serious impediment to interstate trade. A national plan would bring uniformity to the industry.
Many Arkansas producers also supported a new state law that established a voluntary health-certification program. While the state regulations are still being finalized, farms with multiple-year inspection histories are expected to qualify for certificates next year. The program should ensure that certificate holders will have access to markets in the future, even following disease outbreaks.