Speaking at the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) aquaculture conference in Brussels, the FVE president Christophe Buhot said there is a need for more specialised vets in the sector.
He said the FVE is helping to promote aquaculture in veterinary schools but more needs to be done to take practical steps to manage fish health and safety.
He said fish are animals, which need the specialised care as any other species in the world and vets play a fundamental role in assuring fish health and welfare and in doing so safeguarding public health and contributing to the European economy.
Mr Buhot said that this need is going to grow as consumption of seafood grows.
He said that aquaculture is currently the fastest growing food producing sector in the world, but European aquaculture only accounts for five per cent of global production. Consumption on average in the EU is 23kg per person per year.
“But European citizens are eating more seafood than Europe can produce,” Mr Buhot said.
The growth in aquaculture production, however, comes at a cost to the environment as production relies on clean water.
Mr Buhot called for more education among veterinarians and also more research into sustainable management.
The FVE opens the debate on aquaculture and the sector’s major challenges, with a view to propose practical and sustainable solutions,” he said.
“FVE wants to ensure that fish are treated in a way which respects their special nature.
“We try to raise awareness about the current and emerging problems of the different kinds of aquatic production, look into increasing the availability of special medicinal products for fish throughout Europe and call for the establishment of fish-specific rules that ensure fish health and welfare during transport and slaughter.”
Mr Buhot called on all participants in the industry “to proactively participate in this dialogue, with a view to looking into the situation in Europe”.
He said the sector had to acknowledge existing needs and successfully plan the next steps for the future of European aquaculture.
He added that there was a need for more specialised vets and also warned that the use of antibiotics to counter health issues and disease outbreaks was not a sustainable option.
“Practical steps must be made to manage fish health and food safety,” he said.