Antibiotics in seafood farming
A practice which the ASC does not permit is the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. Banning the preventative use of antibiotics helps to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance, which in humans has been identified as one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century. Antibiotics are used inappropriately in many different farming sectors in attempts to prevent diseases before they occur or to encourage growth – just as they are sometimes used inappropriately by humans. But the more that antibiotics are used, the more likely it is that bacteria will develop a resistance to them, meaning they must only be used when absolutely necessary. The ASC ban also encourages farmers to find more responsible ways to prevent disease and encourage fish health.
The ASC standards ensure that fish farmers restrict the use of antibiotics, and monitor water quality and fish health. ASC certified shrimp farmers are not permitted to use antibiotics at all on ASC labelled shrimp. ASC-certified farms are only allowed to use antibiotics/medicines after a qualified veterinarian or fish health professional has diagnosed a disease. This includes medicines that are legally authorised.
In addition to these rules, there are certain antibiotics that can never be used on any ASC certified farm. These are the antibiotics which have been designated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “critically important”. These are the antibiotics that WHO has determined are so important to human medicine that they must not be overused, to prevent the risk of bacteria developing resistance. That’s why ASC certified farms can never use these treatments under any circumstances.
ASC certified farms must put together a wider health plan for their fish, looking at things like good biodiversity beneath the fish farm, survival and health of farmed fish, water filtration, origin and condition of young fish. By encouraging this holistic approach to fish health, farms can become less reliant on the use of antibiotics.
If, like us, you want to only shop and eat seafood products that’s been produced with care by farmers who use medicines responsibly, simply look out for the ASC logo when you shop and eat out. And if it’s not there – ask why not!
Learn about seafood farming
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