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Trade Associations – British Trout Association

Super strategy Sector combines high welfare standards with low antibiotic use BY DOUG MCLEOD


ntimicrobial Resistance (AMR) happens when microorganisms- such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites- change after exposure to antimicrobial drugs (antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics). Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as ‘superbugs’. As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death. Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, hip replacements) become very high risk. Welcome to what is probably the number one issue for health and disease treatment in this (relatively) new century. The above description is courtesy of the World Health Organisation (WHO), but could have been taken from almost any relevant governmental website in recent years, as there is global concern at the highest level, transcending politics, over AMR. The WHO also notes: Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is accelerating this process. Antimicrobial resistant-microbes are found in people, animals, food, and the environment (in water, soil and air). They can spread between people and animals, and from person to person. Poor infection control, inadequate sanitary conditions and inappropriate food handling encourage the spread of antimicrobial resistance. AMR- and antibiotic resistance in particular – is therefore an issue of great concern to all food producers, including those involved in aquaculture. Narrowing our focus down to the UK, there is great interest in the annual release of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) survey ‘Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report’. I believe that the latest publication for 2015 data includes a good news story for the aquaculture sector, certainly in comparison with other food pro-

Here is “ certainly one food issue where the aquaculture industry should be applauded

Left: Good news story for aquaculture


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ducing sectors. Firstly, it reports that the fish sector consumed no more than 700kg of antibiotics, placing it way below the main agricultural sectors of cattle, poultry, pigs, as shown in Figure 1. The reduction in the fish sector from the 2014 level of 2.4 tonnes was some 71 per cent, the highest percentage reduction of any sector. The 2014 usage for fish was actually the highest of the previous five years, indicating that 2014 and 2015 were not exceptional years of low use, but pretty typical of current use in UK aquaculture. The data shows that the aquaculture industry’s strategy of focusing on vaccine development, stress management, stocking density and feed management has been remarkably successful in reducing antibiotic use to levels below virtually all other food producing industries – a record of which I believe the sector should be proud. However, it is clear that having reduced antibiotic use to an extremely low level, any crisis in fish health would show a significant increase in consumption. There are some members of the industry who feel this would generate negative publicity, but I don’t believe this should be a major concern for operators; short-term use for health/welfare/survival of the fish in their care is totally defendable, in contrast to prophylactic and/or indiscriminate use of these veterinary medicines. To advocate or guarantee a nil use policy would be indefensible on welfare grounds alone – acceptance of a roller coaster level of annual usage is required, and should be defended as the corollary of the hugely successful strategy of securing fish health through the development of vaccines and medicated feed. We have a solid, positive story here, one that clearly offsets some of the negative spin that swirls around the industry – here is certainly one food issue where the aquaculture industry should be applauded for its leadership and concerns about the impact on human health of its products, along with the welfare of the animals under its care. And hopefully 2017 will continue to illustrate the benefits of the long-term strategy of the sector, combining high welfare standards for the animals under care with the expansion of the sector, while continuing the current low-level use of antibiotics. FF

16/01/2017 11:17:15

Profile for Fish Farmer Magazine

Fish Farmer Magazine january 2017  

Serving Worldwide Aquaculture Since 1977

Fish Farmer Magazine january 2017  

Serving Worldwide Aquaculture Since 1977