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Oman Developing Herbal Antibiotics for Aquaculture

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OMAN - Moving away from the use of antibiotics in aquaculture, the Oman Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) is developing herbal antibiotics to treat diseases in fish.

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Speaking to Muscat Daily, Dr Aliya Salim al Ghabshi, head of microbiology section in the Fisheries Quality Control Centre at the MoAF said: “We are opting for probiotic and herbal treatments in the aquaculture sector. In the probiotic method, we will use live microorganisms that have a beneficial effect on the host. Probiotics will stimulate growth, improve feed digestion, immune responses and water quality.”

She said that the various chemotherapeutic substances used for treatment or prevention of diseases have resulted in developing of resistant bacterial strains. The use of antimicrobial agents like antibiotics in aquaculture has resulted in more resistant bacterial strains which could have a negative impact on the therapy and the environment of fish farms.

“These antibiotics may also reduce the larval growth and inhibit the defence mechanisms of the fish larvae. So there is a need to have alternate strategies for pathogen control and prevention in aquaculture systems.”

Dr Aliya added that medicinal plants possess therapeutic properties and exert beneficial pharmacological effects on the animal body.

“There are various indigenous Omani herbs like basil, thyme and garlic that can be used for non-antibiotic fish diseases control. They will have no adverse effect on the ecosystem, act as a growth promoter, immune stimulant, anti-fungal agent, parasitic agent and boost anti-microbial activity.”

She said that the aquaculture sector has grown tremendously worldwide since the last few years.

“Today, it is the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world. Globally, aquaculture sector is expanding into new areas.

“A persistent goal of global aquaculture is to maximise the efficiency of production to optimise profitability. However, disease is a primary constraint to the growth of many aquaculture species and is now responsible for severely impeding both economic and socio-economic developments in many countries.”