Antibiotics usage in the salmon farming industry totaled 557 tonnes in 2015, according to the National Service of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Sernapesca), a figure that illustrates the intensive use trend in the country over the past five years. In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; 206, 337, 450 and 563 tonnes were used, respectively.
According to an article published in the Chilean newspaper La Tercera, these figures represent 46 companies operating in both freshwater and sea water.
“There are vaccines available for use in salmon in our country. However, the outcome of these vaccines have not been successful in preventing SRS - the main disease affecting salmon - which accounts for more than 90 per cent of all antibiotic treatments in salmon farming,” says Alicia Gallardo, deputy director of Aquaculture in Sernapesca.
Gallardo announced that Sernapesca will take additional measures to regulate the use of antibiotics. For example, use of quinolones (flumequine and oxolinic acid) will be forbidden during the sea water stage, at least until a surveillance programme against antibiotic resistance is in place.
Likewise, a system of “retained prescription” for prescribing antimicrobial drugs will be implemented in order to have increased control over treatments applied in each farming site.
Felipe Sandoval, president of Salmonchile, said the guild will issue a report on the use of antibiotics in its associated companies within 45 days. That publication is consequence of the trade organisation's legal dispute with the environmental NGO Oceana. The latter wants to know the quantity of antibiotics being used by each company, but Sernapesca cannot release such information without the authorization of the firms involved.
“The salmon industry understands the demands of the communities to know these numbers,” said Sandoval.
The union said that, despite antibiotic use, salmon products of Chilean origin are antibiotic-free.
As of yesterday, June 8th, 22 of the 25 companies operating in the sea have already agreed to provide permission to disclose their data.