Challenges of the Aquaculture Sector
In the twenty-first century, food supply is once again a major challenge for humanity. World food production is expected to grow 70% between 2010 and 2050. In relation to aquatic food, more than half of the total consumed today in the world comes from aquaculture farms. In 2030, that proportion will exceed 65% (1).
Aquaculture has begun to be perceived as a way to maintain and increase fish consumption and meet the future demands for protein, and it is also a source of employment.
According to the FAO, in 2011 and according to its statistics, world aquaculture produced 83.7 million tonnes of aquatic products that year (2). Aquaculture production in Spain came to more than 281,200 tonnes in 2010, of which 263,503.92 corresponded to the farming of marine species (93.7% of the total production) and the rest to continental aquaculture (17,701.41 tonnes, 6.3% of total production) (3).
In terms of production, infectious diseases are the major cause of economic losses in aquaculture due to animal mortality, treatment costs and declining production. In this way, losses only due to fish mortality from infectious diseases are estimated at 10%, with some of these processes causing mortalities over 90% (4).
The treatment of these diseases with chemotherapeutic agents and their routine use has led to resistance appearing. Residues of antibiotics in food are being controlled, and they are even limited in some cases (organic farms). (5)
Today, vaccination is the most important measure to prevent the emergence of diseases of bacterial origin in fish farms around the world. In addition to environmental health and welfare issues, the sector faces other technological challenges arising from the administration of medicines, such as administration methods.
The COPA-COGECA Working Group on Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Organisation of Fish Farmers has urged the European Commission (EC) to submit a new legal proposal "without further delay, in order to guarantee a solid and stable regulatory framework, promoting the development of new veterinary medicinal products, increasing their availability in Europe and improving the operation of the internal market "(6).
The market for the development, manufacture and sale of vaccines and other products for aquaculture has traditionally been overlooked, and has not been worthy of the interest of pharmaceutical companies.
The high cost of obtaining an authorisation to place a vaccine or a chemotherapeutic drug on the market has greatly limited the interest of large veterinary companies in investing in the development of certain products for this sector. This has led to a lack of response from the large pharmaceutical companies to the health problems of the aquaculture sector (anaesthetics, fungicides, low-consumption vaccines...), as well as a lack of research on the regular health problems in the aquaculture sector.
Therefore, we are faced with a niche market that has unsatisfied needs at this time:
- On the one hand, there are serious diseases that affect the production and profitability of fish farms, which lack preventive treatments given the low activity in research and development in that sector (e.g. myxobacteria), since efforts have been channelled in sectors such as human or animal health, of greater volume,
- and on the other hand, there are diseases that currently do have treatments, but which nevertheless need to be improved in view of the new regulatory requirements in health, which will have an impact on restrictive application or even the prohibition of current treatments.
- (1) Aquaculture in Spain -Report 2013 ESACUA, APROMAR
- (2) Aquaculture in Spain -Report 2013 ESACUA, APROMAR
- (3) Overview of the national aquaculture sector, Spain. FAO Date of consultation: 20th January 2014
- (4) Main bacterial pathologies in Spanish fish farming. 01/02/2004. MM Blanco et al. Dept. of Animal Health. Veterinary Faculty. Complutense University of Madrid
- (5) FAO (2013) Improving biosecurity through prudent and responsible use of veterinary medicines in aquatic food production.
- (6) European fish farmers remind DG SANCO of the need to promote medicines mispeces.com Date of consultation: 20th January 2014