For the first time, there is an official response in Europe to prevent the spread of the new fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. The Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats held its 35th meeting this past November 20th, during which they issued this official recommendation.
One of the main objectives of the annual meeting of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention was to develop a list of methods to be implemented to prevent the spread of B. salamandrivorans, which produces the fungus responsible for the massive 96% population declines in Salamandra salamandra in the Netherlands.
The document highlights the high epidemiological impact of the pet trade (as you know, this pathogen was introduced into Europe from Asia through the pet trade) and the known deficiencies in the control of infectious diseases globally. However, it also shows that trade is not the only possible way that diseases may be introduced, and that international cooperation and coordinated response to new disease outbreaks is necessary.
Accordingly, the resolution points to 11 recommendations for member countries, including:
• The immediate imposition of restriction in the trade of salamanders and newts as a way to prevent the introduction of B. salamandrivorans through the pet trade.
• Establishing monitoring programs to control its possible spread.
• Urgently developing emergency action plans.
• Supporting research on the biology, epidemiology, and on how to mitigate B. salamandrivoran, and on the conservation of European salamanders and newts.
• Designing and implementing public awareness campaigns for the prevention of B. salamandrivoran.
Starting now, it’s the responsibility of the national authorities to put these recommendations to protect our biodiversity into practice.
As an example of what can be done to raise public awareness of the problem, we recommend this beautiful video, which just came out in the USA.
Translated by Nate Stein