Commercial vaccines have been used in aquaculture for the last 40 years. Unlike vaccines in warm blooded animals, fish vaccines are much more complex and need to be tailored to fit specific fish species, due to the variance between the species.
So far, most commercial vaccines have been inactivated vaccines administered by injection or immersion. However, live vaccines as well as vaccines based on molecular biology, like DNA-vaccines, have been licenced in recent years.
Speaking at Aquaculture Europe 2013, Mr R Gudding noted that antibiotic use has dropped in recent years. He gave the example of Norway which has had increasing fish production alongside decreasing antibiotic use, demonstrating how effective vaccines have been.
Vaccines have proved successful in the fight against some bacterial diseases, such as, against vibriosis in Atlantic salmon and Rainbow trout, Streptococcus in turbot and Photobacterium in seabass/bream.
In terms of preventing viruses, inactivated vaccines have had some effect over ISA, PD and IPN.
Overall, vaccines have had a positive effect on reducing fish mortality. However, for the future of the fish farming industry it is also important that vaccination contributes to a sustainable biological production with negligible consumption of antibiotics.
Mr Gudding noted that in the future, more work needs to be done on inactivated vaccines to improve their efficiency and safety and that molecular biology in vaccine production is also very important.
Mr Gudding also stated that more work should focus on creating a vaccine for sea lice.