An “intensification of fish farming systems has resulted in higher risks of disease outbreaks and a subsequent trend towards more antimicrobial use,” says a report by researchers allied under the Malaysia-based WorldFish banner but affiliated CGIAR System Management of Montpellier, southern France.
The affiliates link antibiotic resistance in humans to antimicrobial use in aquaculture, which researchers say is “different” than raising livestock, the methods of which are described as “more consolidated”.
The study Unpacking factors influencing antimicrobial use in global aquaculture and their implication for management: a review from a systems perspective recommends urgent international action to look at the scale of the problem. The researchers point to a “need to integrate risk-assessment as an alternative means to reduce disease.”
The report seemed timely given events reported in Norway by Salmon Business today.
The researchers say medicating more fish is avoidable while warning that increasing antimicrobial use — antibiotics, antivirals, and anti-protozoals — will lead to the development of resistance to medicines in fish and in humans. Antimicrobial-resistance, dubbed AMR by The World Health Organization, is greatly feared worldwide, a fear the WHO links to the creation of “super bugs”, a reference to the “flu bug”.
The WorldFish researchers appear to seek a greater role policing the use of antibiotics, fish-farm density and fish-farm training: “International organizations could … assist with disease-free fish seed and vaccines, enforce rigid monitoring of the quantity and quality of antimicrobials … and minimize antimicrobial residues in the farmed species and in the environment,” a communique from WorldFish said. Yet, in contrast to the small-scale, subsistence farming shown on the WorldFish Web page, capital-intensive salmon-farming already obtains “training, spatial planning, the identifying of disease and good management”, or the things Worl
dFish say “lower antimicrobial use”.
“With aquaculture, the fastest growing food sector in the world, it will be critical to ensure that growth is coupled with attention to the use of antimicrobial drugs,” WorldFish director of science and aquaculture, Michael Phillips, was quoted as saying.
Despite a number of reports out there on the commercial value of the world fish pharmaceuticals market, Phillips said there’s “no reliable data on global use of antimicrobials in fish farming”.
“A global approach to this issue is necessary, targeting fish production systems and products aimed both for domestic and export markets,” he stated.