Antimicrobial use in aquaculture will increase 33% by 2030, researchers warn

Antimicrobial consumption in aquaculture — the farming of aquatic animals for food — will increase 33% worldwide by 2030, highlighting an “urgent need” for enhanced stewardship efforts, researchers reported.

Written by: Staff / Healio News

Globally, 8% of all animal protein consumed by people comes from aquaculture, according to Daniel Schar, VMD, of the Free University of Brussels, and colleagues. The industry has grown by almost 6% annually since 2001, with most production occurring in Asia, they reported.

The researchers noted that overuse of antimicrobials in food animals can drive antimicrobial resistance.

“Antimicrobial resistance remains amongst our era’s defining global health challenges,” Schartold Healio. “We reviewed the current evidence on antimicrobial use in a rapidly growing aquaculture industry to establish a baseline for future work and to inform antimicrobial stewardship policies.”

Schar and colleagues estimated potential worldwide trends in antimicrobial use for aquaculture to help “target future surveillance efforts and antimicrobial stewardship policies.” To achieve their estimates, they analyzed antimicrobial use intensity for six groups of species by conducting a systematic review of point prevalence surveys. Using 146 species-specific rates of antimicrobial use, they then estimated antimicrobial use rates for individual countries.

The authors estimated that the global antimicrobial consumption would increase from 10,259 tons in 2017 to 13,600 tons in 2030. The largest share of antimicrobial consumption in aquaculture occurs in the Asia-Pacific region (93.8%), with China accounting for 57.9% of worldwide consumption in 2017. Antimicrobial intensity was 157 mg/kg–1 in catfish, 103 mg/kg–1 in trout, 59 mg/kg–1 in tilapia, 46 mg/kg–1 in in shrimp, 27 mg/kg–1 in salmon and 208 mg/kg–1 in a pooled species group.

The researchers also estimated that the total worldwide terrestrial, human and aquatic food animal antimicrobial use will reach more than 236,000 tons by 2030, with aquaculture accounting for 5.7% of this figure but having the highest use intensity overall.

“Our findings indicate that for some aquaculture species groups, antimicrobial use intensity exceeds levels in terrestrial animals and humans,” Schar said. “Our review underscores the urgent need for surveillance of antimicrobial consumption in this high-growth industry with broad links to water and ecosystem health.”


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