Unpacking factors influencing antimicrobial use in global aquaculture and their implication for management: a review from a systems perspective

Patrik J. G. Henriksson, Andreu Rico, Max Troell, Dane H. Klinger, Alejandro H. Buschmann, Sonja Saksida,  Mohan V. Chadag, Wenbo Zhang


Global seafood provides almost 20% of all animal protein in diets, and aquaculture is, despite weakening trends, the fastest growing food sector worldwide. Recent increases in production have largely been achieved through intensification of existing farming systems, resulting in higher risks of disease outbreaks. This has led to increased use of antimicrobials (AMs) and consequent antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in many farming sectors, which may compromise the treatment of bacterial infections in the aquaculture species itself and increase the risks of AMR in humans through zoonotic diseases or through the transfer of AMR genes to human bacteria. Multiple stakeholders have, as a result, criticized the aquaculture industry, resulting in consequent regulations in some countries. AM use in aquaculture differs from that in livestock farming due to aquaculture’s greater diversity of species and farming systems, alternative means of AM application, and less consolidated farming practices in many regions. This, together with less research on AM use in aquaculture in general, suggests that large data gaps persist with regards to its overall use, breakdowns by species and system, and how AMs become distributed in, and impact on, the overall social-ecological systems in which they are embedded. This paper identifies the main factors (and challenges) behind application rates, which enables discussion of mitigation pathways. From a set of identified key mechanisms for AM usage, six proximate factors are identified: vulnerability to bacterial disease, AM access, disease diagnostic capacity, AMR, target markets and food safety regulations, and certification. Building upon these can enable local governments to reduce AM use through farmer training, spatial planning, assistance with disease identification, and stricter regulations. National governments and international organizations could, in turn, assist with disease-free juveniles and vaccines, enforce rigid monitoring of the quantity and quality of AMs used by farmers and the AM residues in the farmed species and in the environment, and promote measures to reduce potential human health risks associated with AMR.









Published in Sustainability Science, Published online 18 November 2017. Link here.

Published Nov. 20, 2017 11:28 AM - Last modified Nov. 20, 2017 11:28 AM