Weekly Overview: US Aquaculture Health Standards Pilot Shows Economic Benefits

15 March 2016, at 12:00am

ANALYSIS - A new project by the US National Aquaculture Association alongside USDAs Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS Veterinary Services) has created a set of voluntary standards that will improve the health of fish and shellfish farmed in the country.

Through the improvement of health, the standards should also promote trade, reduce current regulatory barriers to the movement of fish and have an economic benefit to farmers.

The standards, named CAHPS - Commercial Aquaculture Health Programme Standards, are comprised of five key principles which farmers must adhere to.

“Many farmers involved in commercial production are already adhering to these principles, however there is currently no official recognition of their efforts,” said Dr Kathleen Hartman, Aquaculture Programme Leader for USDA APHIS Veterinary Services.

One pilot project testing CAHPS, undertaken by Carole Engle and Jonathan van Senten, University of Arkansaw at Pine Bluff, found that applying the principles of the standards led to big economic savings for farmers.

This particular project used the CAHPS on US baitfish farms. The study found that through using the standards, on average regulatory costs per farm have the potential to be reduced from $150,000 to, at best - $56,000 and, at worst - $66,000.

"CAHPS have a great potential to reduce regulatory costs on baitfish farms, assuming it is widely adopted," said Mr Van Senten, speaking to TheFishSite at Aquaculture 2016 in Las Vegas.

You can read more on CAHPS and view the video interview, here.

In other news, a research scientist from Nofima, Norway, has presented three strategies for adapting farmed fish to climate change.

The work is based on the vision paper “Selective breeding in aquaculture for future environments under climate change”. This is a part of the long-term co-operation between Nofima in Norway, Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and Natural Resources Institute in Finland (LUKE).

Using breeding programmes to help fish adapt, the three key strategies identified are:

  1. making fish more robust and less vulnerable to environmental changes,
  2. breeding for traits which maximise production,
  3. aquaculture should more frequently use genetically improved species not suffering from inbreeding depression.

Dr Antti Kause, principal research scientist and author of the vision paper from LUKE, says: ”We propose that stakeholders should support the adoption and development of selective breeding by disseminating genetically improved materials and knowledge of selective breeding at all levels of the aquaculture sector worldwide, to ensure food security for the growing human population under climate change.”

Following on from last week's reports of millions of farmed fish reported dead in Chile due to a Harmful Algal Bloom, this week the Deputy Director of Aquaculture noted that around 72 per cent of the dead fish have now been safely harvested.

Dead fish are now being sent to reducing plants and 300 tons has been dumped at sea in a safe area established by the Undersecretariat of Fisheries.