Aquaculture urged to reduce use of antimicrobials
By Matt Jones
Misuse could create openings for new pathogens, says study
The use of antimicrobials in aquaculture has not reached a critical mass but it is important to consider reducing their use, says a study.
The study, Unpacking factors influencing antimicrobial use in global aquaculture and their implication for management: a review from a systems perspective, noted that use and overuse of antimicrobials within an aquaculture system can wipe out good bacteria that help maintain a balance along with the targeted pathogens. This could create openings for new pathogens.
“What we found was that there are a lot of roads where you can reduce antimicrobial use,” says Patrik Henriksson, researcher and lead author of the study led by WorldFish, in collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Fish and Agri-food Systems.
To reduce antimicrobial use, the study recommends the use of probiotics to strengthen good bacteria; applying effective spatial planning to reduce disease spread between farm sites; applying better management practices, and developing stricter regulations for antimicrobial usage.
Henriksson noted the Norwegian salmon industry’s efforts to develop disease-free fish seeds and vaccines. He would like to see national governments and international organizations assist with the development of similar techniques for species such as carp, which is critical for nutrition in nations such as Bagladesh, Burma and parts of China.
The report also calls for increased education on the topic for farmers around the globe. “One of the big problems today is that a lot of farmers, especially in countries in Asia or Africa, they don’t have the knowledge or resources to identify the type of disease they have, or they don’t know the consequences of using antimicrobials,” says Henriksson. “Simply by educating farmers and giving them better capacity to diagnose their diseases could result in huge reductions in antimicrobial use. We don’t have to stop using them, we have to use them more wisely.”