In Zoology live organisms, which inter alia includes the aquatic ectothermic vertebrates such as fish, amphibian and reptiles, are regularly used in research. This also applies to the field Aquatic research which focuses on the biology of organisms, biodiversity, environmental pollution, conservation as well as molecular, genetic and toxicology studies. In the process ectotherms are either purchased or collected in the field. In the latter case live organisms are temporarily kept for identification purposes but in both instances they are transferred to a laboratory for research purposes. The emphasis in all the situations is on limitation of stress, humane handling and observing animal welfare aspects. Ethics involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts and procedures of right and wrong conduct. A standard operating procedure, or SOP, is a set of step-by-step instructions created to help carry out routine operations in order to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations.
The reason why NWU wishes to offer the course is based on the need to expose postgraduate students and future researchers to the ethical aspects of animal care and to ensure that they fully understand the SOPs involved in the field of aquatic research.
Currently there is no similar course available in South Africa and proof of certification in animal handling is needed for any ethics application.