Can we feel it in our waters? Antimicrobials in aquaculture

Mary D Barton and Olasumbo L Ndi
Med J Aust 2012; 197 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja12.11484
Published online: 5 November 2012

Comprehensive antimicrobial use monitoring and resistance surveillance is needed for fish and seafood

Eating fish once or twice a week is promoted as good for your health — but is there a downside as well? With the global decline in wild fish stocks, there is an ever-increasing demand for aquaculture-produced fish and other aquatic foods. The aquaculture industry is relatively new but is growing rapidly in Australia. Among the top species in terms of value of production are salmonids, tuna, prawns and edible oysters. Other farmed products include abalone, barramundi, yellowtail kingfish, mulloway and mussels. Aquaculture usually means farming the fish and other species at much higher densities than those found in their natural environments. Depending on the species, they are held in sea cages or offshore pontoons, onshore or estuarine ponds, racks and ropes or onshore tanks, dams and ponds. High stocking densities increase the risk of disease and hence the pressure to use antimicrobials. Antimicrobial use increases the risk to consumers of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in both locally produced and imported products.

  • Mary D Barton1
  • Olasumbo L Ndi2

  • School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA.


Competing interests:

Mary Barton has assessed registration applications and provided expert testimony for the APVMA. She has been involved in antibacterial vaccine development for the Rural Industries and Research Development Corporation of the Australian Government.


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