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Download the guide for monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture

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By Milthon Lujan

Guide for monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture
Guide for monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing global threat that affects not only human health but also food security and the health of animals, plants, and the environment.

In aquaculture, the extensive use of antimicrobials to prevent and treat diseases in fish can contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, which could affect food security, animal welfare, and the sustainability of the industry.

At the regional level, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO RAP) has invested in and worked to address antimicrobial resistance in the region. One area where FAO RAP has had notable success is in the aspect of monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance, which includes the development and publication of a collection of guidelines for monitoring and surveillance of resistance, residues, and antimicrobial use.

New guidelines for action: monitoring and surveillance are key

Aquaculture plays a crucial role in food supply and livelihood maintenance worldwide. However, the extensive use of antibiotics in fish farming contributes to the development of AMR in aquatic bacteria. This poses a significant threat to food security, public health, and the environment.

To address this challenge, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has developed a new regional guideline titled “Monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens from aquaculture.” This important document provides essential guidance for conducting monitoring and surveillance of AMR in the region, specifically focusing on priority pathogens of aquatic animals.

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This vital document provides valuable guidance for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to systematically monitor and track antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture, paving the way for informed actions and advancements.

Key features of the guideline

Below are some key features of the guideline:

  • Regional overview: Provides a comprehensive understanding of AMR surveillance in aquaculture within the region, highlighting the importance of harmonizing methodologies.
  • Design approaches: Guides countries in designing effective AMR surveillance programs, from identifying target populations to determining sampling strategies.
  • Detailed procedures: Includes clear and detailed protocols for sample collection, transportation, and laboratory analysis of bacterial pathogens.
  • Data management: Describes best practices for managing AMR data, including collection, storage, analysis, and presentation.

A collaborative effort for a sustainable future

This guideline is part of a broader set of resources developed by FAO to combat AMR across various sectors. By working collaboratively and implementing these guidelines, countries can significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of their AMR surveillance programs in aquaculture.

The guideline is divided into the following chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Provides a regional overview of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance in aquaculture, including the importance of harmonizing methodologies across the region.
  • Chapter 2: The guidelines also cover approaches to designing AMR surveillance in aquaculture, from identifying the target population to sampling considerations.
  • Chapter 3: Sample consideration and transportation are described in detail, following current methodologies for disease surveillance in aquaculture.
  • Chapter 4: Laboratory methods are described, from general principles to specific methodologies.
  • Chapter 5: The guidelines also describe AMR data management, including collection, storage, analysis, and presentation.
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The benefits of effective monitoring

  • Improved food security: Early detection and control of AMR will ensure safer seafood for consumers.
  • Enhanced animal welfare: Effective treatment of bacterial diseases minimizes the suffering of fish and other aquatic animals.
  • Protected livelihoods: Sustainable aquaculture practices safeguard the livelihoods of communities dependent on this vital industry.
  • Environmental protection: Reduced antibiotic use minimizes environmental pollution and protects ecosystems.

The road ahead: building resilience for a healthier future

By proactively monitoring and addressing antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture, we can safeguard human and animal health, ensure food security, and protect the environment for future generations.

This new FAO guideline provides a valuable roadmap for achieving these goals, paving the way for a more sustainable and resilient future for all.

Reference (open access)
FAO, NParks and SFA, 2023. Monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens from aquaculture – Regional Guidelines for the Monitoring and Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance, Use and Residues in Food and Agriculture. Volume 3. Bangkok. https://doi.org/10.4060/cc3512en