Exercise Tethys simulated a multi-state aquatic animal disease outbreak in the silver perch aquaculture industry and was held in November 2003. Over 80 staff from eight government jurisdictions and three industry bodies participated in the two day exercise.
The aim of Exercise Tethys was to:
- effectively address inter-jurisdictional communication and response coordination
- heighten awareness in jurisdictions to potential aquatic animal disease incursions.
The exercise’s scenario saw the outbreak occur in three states and required:
- the involvement of ‘disease free’ states and territories – through disease surveillance activities and participation in national decision making and resource allocation
- industry participation at national and state level
- the activation of `virtual’ State Disease Control Headquarters and the Aquatic Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Disease (CCEAD).
The exercise took place in a simulated operational environment and participants performed real roles, as they would in an emergency. Emergency operations centres were established and participants were required to meet and make timely and effective response decisions.
The disease chosen for the exercise was the highly infectious viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHS) listed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The virus has never been reported in Australia but occurs in the continental part of Europe and has been associated with massive mortalities of herring along the Pacific Coast of the USA and Canada. In Western Europe, annual losses due to VHS have been estimated at US$60 million.
Industries in Australia that are susceptible to the disease are trout (rainbow, brown and brook) and salmon (Atlantic and Chinook). If VHS became established in Australia the losses to these industries could be devastating.
The report on the outcomes from Exercise Tethys was endorsed by Primary Industries Standing Committee in July 2004.
The report highlighted that communication is a vital part of any emergency response and made detailed recommendations on how current communication systems and procedures could be improved.
The report also highlighted the importance of training activities in all jurisdictions and recommended that future training activities encompass a range of roles and responsibilities across a range of personnel.
Participating jurisdictions are currently implementing the recommendations from the report to improve pre-existing frameworks and resources in order to develop more robust communication systems and procedures for an emergency response.
What's in a name? - 'Tethys'
Tethys was the Titanis goddess of underground fresh water. She married her brother Oceanus (the great fresh-water river that encircled the earth) and had over 3000 children to him; they were the Potamoi (Rivers, springs and lakes of the world) and Okeanides (Clouds).