HistoryThe early history of the Fish Health Section is closely linked with the AFHN, which was initiated in 1985 under support from the International Development Research Centre, Canada (IDRC). In May 1986, during the First AFHN Network Meeting, held in conjunction with the First Asian Fisheries Forum, the idea of forming a regional society for fish health workers was mooted.

As a result of the interest expressed by the participants, Dr. Richard Arthur, then IDRC AFHN Coordinator, sent a "Fish Health Workers Questionnaire" to more than 130 fish health workers in the region. The results strongly favored establishing such a professional organization. At a special meeting held in May 1987 at the UPM in conjunction with the Second AFHN Meeting, the results of the questionnaire circulated by IDRC were reviewed and the decision taken to establish a society for fish health workers and to produce a newsletter.

Two ad hoc committees were established: an organizing committee comprised of Dr. Leong Tak Seng, Dr. Kamonporn Tonguthai, and Mrs. Lila Ruangpan; and a newspaper committee, comprised of Mr. Jose Natividad and Ms. Celia Baticados. As a result, an approach was made to the Asian Fisheries Society, which agreed to the establishment of a "Fish Health Study Group" of the society.

The Fish Health Section was officially established on 30 January, 1989, when an organizational meeting was held at the UPM in conjunction with the Third AFHN Meeting. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Richard Arthur (IDRC) with Dr. Faizah Shaharom acting as Recording Secretary. A total of 38 persons were in attendance, of which 20 were AFS members.

During this formative meeting, a draft set of bylaws prepared by the Organizing Committee was read, amended and approved, and the new section's first Executive Committee (EXCOMM) was elected, its composition being Dr. Leong (Chairperson), Dr. Tonguthai (Vice-Chairperson), Dr. Shaharom (Secretary-Treasurer) and Dr. Ian Anderson, Mrs. Gilda Lio-Po, Dr. Rohana Subasinghe, Dr. Takahisa Kimura, Dr. Akhmed Rukyani and Dr. Pan Jin Pei (members). Dr. Mhd. Shariff was appointed as the first editor of the FHS Newsletter.

From the initial founding members, the Section grew rapidly, having more than 90 members by early 1990, and by 1992 membership was in excess of 300. In membership declined to due to the institution of dues by our parent Society. However, it has since climbed back to the current level of members.

The Section acts as a means of communication and linkage between fish health workers of the Asia-Pacific Region, primarily through its newsletter, which is published biannually, and through the internationally recognized "Symposia on Diseases in Asian Aquaculture," which are held triennially, and attract a large attendance by scientists from both the Asia-Pacific and abroad.

Symposia have been held in 1990 (Bali, Indonesia), 1992 (Singapore), 1995 (Phuket, Thailand) and in 1999 (Cebu, Philippines). The proceedings of these symposia, Diseases in Asian Aquaculture I, DDA II, and DAA III serve as invaluable references on the status of fish health research in the Asia-Pacific Region.

As the Fish Health Section celebrates its 10th anniversary, we can look back with pride on the many accomplishments our organization has made during its short existence, and with hope for the future, thanks to the hard work of our Executive Committee and general membership.


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