Action: Reduce the amount of antibiotics used in aquaculture systems
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- We found no studies that evaluated the effects of reducing the amount of antibiotics used in aquaculture systems on subtidal benthic invertebrate populations.
‘We found no studies’ means that we have not yet found any studies that have directly evaluated this intervention during our systematic journal and report searches. Therefore, we have no evidence to indicate whether or not the intervention has any desirable or harmful effects.
Antibiotics are used in aquaculture to reduce or eliminate harmful bacteria (Burridge et al. 2010). Because they are selected for specific species and bacteria, they usually have low toxicity to other organisms. However, some antibiotics have been shown to accumulate and persist in sediments, with potential negative effects to subtidal benthic invertebrates, such as antibiotic resistance (Burridge et al. 2010; Cabello 2006). The risks associated with the use of antibiotics can be reduced by applying them smaller doses, less frequently or across a smaller area. In addition, research has shown that alternatives to antibiotics can be used successfully in aquaculture (Defoirdt et al. 2011). This may reduce the negative effects on subtidal benthic invertebrates, or even remove the source of the threat, and allow for natural recovery.
Evidence for interventions related to the use of pesticides are summarised under “Threat: Pollution – Reduce the amount of pesticides used in aquaculture systems”.
Burridge L., Weis J.S., Cabello F., Pizarro J. & Bostick K. (2010) Chemical use in salmon aquaculture: a review of current practices and possible environmental effects. Aquaculture, 306, 7–23.
Cabello F.C. (2006) Heavy use of prophylactic antibiotics in aquaculture: a growing problem for human and animal health and for the environment. Environmental Microbiology, 8, 1137–1144
Defoirdt T., Sorgeloos P. & Bossier P. (2011) Alternatives to antibiotics for the control of bacterial disease in aquaculture. Current opinion in microbiology, 14, 251–258.