Five Chilean salmon farmers in GSI increased antibiotic use in 2020

Published on
May 26, 2021

Five of the eight Chilean salmon farmers that belong to the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) actually increased antibiotic use in 2020 when compared to levels from 2019, according to numbers available in the GSI annual sustainability report.

“As an industry, it is our priority to reduce the use of antibiotics,” the GSI report states. “As farmers we have a responsibility to ensure a sanitary environment, and protect the health and welfare of the fish under our management. At times, this means we have to use antibiotics to ensure the health of our fish, in the same way we as people use antibiotics to fight off illness. We only ever use antibiotics following the direction of a veterinary prescription, and they are only used under close instruction from certified fish health professionals.”

The amount of antibiotics used is calculated as the amount of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) employed in grams per metric ton (MT) of fish produced (LWE).

Australis Seafoods, the company that already uses the lowest amount of antibiotics of the eight Chilean salmon farmers in GSI, managed to reduce levels 2.6 percent to 200 grams API per MT, from 206 grams in 2019. Blumar lowered antibiotic use 4.6 percent to 274 grams API per MT versus 288 grams in 2019, and Multiexport brought its number down 20.6 percent to 346 grams API per MT, compared to 436 grams in the previous year.

However, Salmones Austral saw antibiotic use jump 49.5 percent to 704 grams API per MT; Salmones Camanchaca increased use 28.9 percent to 700 grams API per MT; AquaChile’s antibiotic dispensing was up 19.7 percent to 654 grams API per MT; Ventisqueros saw antibiotic use surge 113 percent to 555 grams API per MT; and Cermaq increased usage 37 percent to 321 grams API per MT.

Despite the latest GSI figures, Chilean aquaculture authority Sernapesca has in the past said that overall antimicrobial use in the salmon farming industry has decreased nearly 45 percent in the last five years, thanks to the implementation of various measures including the online system of veterinary prescriptions, antimicrobial-free certification, the manual of best practices, and particularly increased information transparency, which GSI said is essential for proper management and efficient antimicrobial use.

In a move to further improve the country’s fishing sector, last year, the government launched the Program for the Optimized Use of Antimicrobials in Salmon Farming (PROA/Salmon) initiative, which seeks to maintain a progressive decrease in the use of these treatments in Chile’s salmon production through a comprehensive disease management plan.

GSI was created in 2013 as a collaborative effort by many of the world’s largest farmed salmon producers to push for collective efforts on sustainability initiatives. The group, which now includes 13 companies comprising 40 percent of the world’s total salmon production. Besides the previously mentioned Chilean companies, other member firms include Bakkafrost, Grieg Seafood, New Zealand King Salmon, Nova Sea AS and Tassal. GSI companies have a presence in Australia, Canada, Chile, the Faroe Islands, New Zealand, Norway, and the U.K.  

Photo courtesy of MAV Drone/Shutterstock

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