Aquaculture for all

A practical guide to pathogens in seabass and sea bream aquaculture

Health Sea bass Sea bream +2 more

A new diagnostic manual that covers the main pathogens in seabass and sea bream aquaculture has been made freely available today.

Developed as part of the MedAID project by a group of experts from Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Tunisia and Norway, it is intended for everyday use by fish farmers as well as diagnostic laboratories dealing with diseases of both species.

A fish farm in the Mediterranean
The new manual is designed as a practical guide for farmers and fish health professionals

Titled the Diagnostic manual for the main pathogens in European seabass and gilthead seabream aquaculture, it was conceived to provide up-to-date guidelines to enable a harmonised approach to the health challenges caused by viral and bacterial pathogens in farming these species. The parasitic diseases are omitted in this document to avoid overlapping with the H2020 project ParaFishControl, which deals solely with diagnostic procedures for parasitic diseases.

The authors note that, although many publications exist on the diagnostics of aquatic animal diseases, there is a lack of reference diagnostic methodologies for seabass and gilthead sea bream, the main finfish species produced in the Mediterranean.

This gap is considered an obstacle for further development of the industry and for designing and coordinating harmonised health management strategies in the different regions of the basin. A possible reason for this constraint may be that seabass and sea bream are not listed as susceptible host species for the notifiable pathogens listed in the current EU legislation, or in the list of diseases notifiable to the OIE, which generates a lack of approved diagnostic methods. Although not notifiable, only viral encephalopathy and retinopathy, due to its importance, is included in the OIE Diagnostic Manual for Aquatic Animal Diseases.

The new MedAID manual contains detailed instructions on the sampling, shipping of samples, handling with samples in the diagnostic laboratory, requirements for bacteriological and virological laboratory as well as on diagnostic procedures for the most important diseases. Particular attention was paid to the mortality caused by unknown etiology and to the interpretation and reporting of the laboratory results. The authors are hoping that it will contribute to the solving of the aforementioned problems in Mediterranean marine aquaculture.


MedAID (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development) is a European H2020 Research and Innovation Project, which was launched in 2017, with the main objective of increasing the overall competitiveness and sustainability of the whole value chain of the Mediterranean marine aquaculture sector by improving its technical and business performance and by shifting to a sustainable market-oriented approach with a higher social and consumer perception.

In the field of disease control and welfare (Work package 4), MedAID aims to provide essential components for better health and welfare management system for the Mediterranean marine aquaculture industry both at an overall and at the company level. The development and dissemination of up-to-date diagnostic manuals and media platforms will allow efficient networking between stakeholders and experts, and a diagnostic harmonisation at Mediterranean level.

The document is published as an open access special edition of the Option Méditerranénnes. Série B. Etudes et Recherches; n. 75 and is available at

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