Research seeks to lessen reliance on antimicrobial use

Zambia is making headway on improving on production of quality fingerlings Photo: Chosa Mweemba Zambia is making headway on improving on production of quality fingerlings Photo: Chosa Mweemba

New research seeks to lessen the use of antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, antivirals and antiprotozoals, in aquaculture.

The research by WorldFish, undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-food Systems (FISH), reveals that the intensification of fish farming systems has resulted in higher risks of disease outbreaks and a subsequent trend towards more antimicrobial use the report says.

“One issue for researchers to understand is that there are no reliable data on global use of antimicrobials in fish farming,” said Michael Phillips, director of science and aquaculture, WorldFish and programme director, FISH.

“A global approach to this issue is necessary, targeting fish production systems and products aimed for both for domestic and export markets.”

Antimicrobial resistance

Global attention has focussed on the overuse of antimicrobials and consequent antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which may compromise the treatment of bacterial infections in the target species as well as in humans.

WorldFish’s study notes that antimicrobial use can be mitigated through farmer training, spatial planning, assistance with disease identification, applying better management practices at farm level and stricter regulations.

And, national governments and international organisations could, in turn, assist with disease-free fish seed and vaccines, enforce rigid monitoring of the quantity and quality of antimicrobials and minimise antimicrobial residues created.

The study,Unpacking factors influencing antimicrobial use in global aquaculture and their implication for management: a review from a systems perspective, recommends urgent internationally coordinated action to better understand the scale of the problem and notes a need to integrate risk assessment as an alternative means to reduce disease.

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