First-half returns are up 30 per cent in Chile compared to 2016.

Chile’s SRS SOS

In a bid to reduce the volume of antibiotics used to combat SRS in Chile, a new joint initiative, called Project Pincoy, has been launched by Skretting, Aquagen/Blue Genomics, Pharmaq, Centrovet, Cermaq, Blumar and Ventisqueros.

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The Chilean salmon industry’s high use of antibiotics has been under heavy criticism of late – reaching its highest level in nine years during 2015, according to a report by Sernapesca.

The main reason for this increase has been due to the prevalence of Salmonid Rickettsial Septicaemia (SRS), as vaccines and traditional therapies have proved inefficient in the treatment of this bacterial disease, which according Sernapesca for 2015 was responsible for 78.9% of disease-related mortalities in Chile.

Among other objectives, Project Pincoy aims to promote the use of selective breeding, functional/high performance diets, vaccines, best practice protocols (for both freshwater and sea water) and encourage careful monitoring and reporting.

"Project Pincoy is a very interesting strategy, which uses a comprehensive approach to preventing SRS, which includes genetic factors and functional foods that strengthen the health of the fish. We also stress that this is a project that involves a partnership between the public and private sector, which is very important. In addition, it follows up on our efforts to decrease the use of antimicrobials by not only considering the disease itself, but also by going beyond to focus on prevention and control through collaboration between business and research bodies," said Alicia Gallardo, Deputy Director of Aquaculture at Sernapesca.

"There is no single solution to tackle outbreaks of SRS and indeed the threat of this disease will always be present. Skretting believes that Pincoy’s holistic approach – combining the latest knowledge and experience within the industry from all levels of the production chain – will greatly reduce the impact of the disease in the future," said Ronald Barlow, General Manager of Skretting Chile.

"AquaGen and Blue Genomics have joined this initiative because it represents an opportunity to apply in a coordinated manner different technologies and procedures that in recent times have emerged to control SRS," reflects Matias Medina, General Manager of Blue Genomics.

"Pharmaq is no stranger to the current health problems of the Chilean industry, where SRS is a major challenge for the health of the fish, causing great losses of fish, a high use of therapeutic treatments and downgrades in fish quality at harvest. For this reason, we participate in this project whose spirit is based on the collaborative efforts between companies and institutions in the industry who are willing to contribute different areas of expertise to generate best practices," Bernd Wrege, General Manager Pharmaq, explained.

"The monitoring and control of all kinds of diseases, mainly SRS, is an ongoing effort which Cermaq has worked on for years, focusing mainly on the development of experimental vaccines. In this area, Project Pincoy complements our disease prevention efforts and adds the experience of our strategic partners, who deliver a different perspective in the search for solutions for our sector," said Francisco Miranda, Chief Operating Officer of Cermaq.