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Vaccine & Feed Concerns For Aquaculture Industry

by the Fish Site Editor
19 October 2011, at 1:00am

WESTERN AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA - With aquaculture providing 50 per cent of the world demand for seafood, numerous challenges lie ahead to keep the industry sustainable.

That is the message from Department of Fisheries senior fish pathologist Dr Brian Jones, who says economical, environmental, nutritional and pollution issues are ongoing concerns for the aquacultures future viability.

In Australia, about 26 per cent of our seafood production comes from aquaculture, he says.

We tend to think of aquaculture as things in ponds but there are farms that grow beta-carotene, which is actually our largest aquaculture producer in terms of value.

About 40 [aquatic] species in Australia are produced through aquaculture, but only four of thosetuna, salmon, pearls and oystersproduce 90 per cent of the production, in terms of catch.

Dr Jones says there are various constraints to aquaculture production in Australia, which is impacting the industry.

Theres a high public demand for fish but commercial catches within Australia are being reduced, increasing reliance on fish imports, he says.

Fish are affected by chemicals in the water at really low levels and its often below the level of detection.

Spray drift is an issue, especially in the South West, where bluegum plantations have encroached on traditional marron farms.

Crustaceans have the same biochemistry as insects and are affected by insecticides.

Disease is another critical factorsince 2002, white spot syndrome (WSS) virus cost the global aquaculture economy $US10 billion.

In Europe, fish produced in aquaculture have been vaccinated against at least one disease but Dr Jones said its almost impossible to get a vaccine licence in Australia.

The rest of the world uses third-generation vaccines, which have been genetically-modified to target the individual pathogen, he says.

And with fishmeal prices skyrocketing, soybean and other meals are increasingly being substitutedsometimes to the detriment of the fish being farmed.

You lose the omega-3 fatty acids, Dr Jones says. To get around this, the fish are given soybean meal and then fishmeal for the last two to three weeks before harvest to increase their omega-3 content.

But theres a tendency to substitute other things for fishmeal, so we have a problem with melamine being detected or palm oils being added to the diet, often without the farmer knowing, Dr Jones says.

Dr Jones also highlighted the costs of getting aquaculture licences and water quality monitoring as impediments to the industry.

the Fish Site Editor

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