FAO addresses antimicrobials in aquaculture

Published on May 15, 2006
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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, headquartered in Rome, has published "Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Aquaculture." The document is intended to raise awareness of the antimicrobial resistance problem in fish farming and related sectors, and to promote prudent use of antimicrobials in support of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

The publication of the FAO document comes shortly after release by the AVMA and Food and Drug Administration of the Judicious Use of Antimicrobials for Aquatic Veterinarians. The guide is a reference and educational resource for veterinarians administering antimicrobials to food fish and other aquatic animals. The guide can be downloaded online at www.avma.org/scienact/jtua.

The FAO document focuses on the misuse of antimicrobials and the related threat of antimicrobial resistance, which the organization sees as a public health concern affecting the human population worldwide. The document provides a review of antimicrobials; risk assessments, management options, and communication; and recommendations as they relate to global aquaculture production.

Some of the recommendations are as follows:

  • International cooperation in efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance in international forums has to be reinforced.
  • Among human doctors, veterinarians, farmers, and patients, the prescription only use of antibiotics has to be supported in all sectors, including agriculture. Also, phasing out all uses other than direct use as therapeutic agents has to be pursued.
  • Collection and analysis of data of antimicrobial resistant microorganisms available to patients, pharmacies, industry, health insurance providers, and others, is needed to detect potential links to intervention measures.
  • There should be a tightening of controls covering the licensing of antibiotics so that the development of antimicrobial resistance in animals given antibiotics can be monitored, evidence of cross-resistance to other antibiotics detected, and consideration given to appropriate action to minimize risks.

The FAO, along with the World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), will host a joint expert consultation on antimicrobial use in aquaculture and antimicrobial resistance, June 13-16 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The AVMA has nominated Dr. Donald Prater with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine for the expert panel. For more information on the meeting, visit www.who.int/foodborne_disease/resistance/en.

For a copy of
"Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Aquaculture,"

log on to the FAO Fisheries Department's Web site
at www.fao.org/fi and then click on
"The responsible use of antibiotics in aquaculture"