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article imageAntibiotic use in Chile's salmon fisheries spiked in 2015

By Karen Graham     Jun 11, 2016 in Environment
Pushed by environmental groups, the Chilean Appeals Court ordered salmon fisheries to disclose their antibiotic use in 2015. The government published the results, showing that in 2015, antibiotic use spiked to its highest level since 2007.
Chile's Sernapesca fisheries group was ordered by Chile's Appeals Court to release the data on their use of antibiotics after the environmental group, Oceana filed a lawsuit over their nondisclosure. The court upheld the group's claim.
This move by Oceana, along with pressure from international buyers of Chilean salmon demanding the same information, forced the government to publicly disclose the information in its annual report, revealing significant differences in prior antibiotic use compared to what is being used today by the world's second largest salmon producer.
The preliminary report released by the government shows the proportion of antibiotics to tons of salmon produced increased to its highest levels since 2007. This was so despite the use of antibiotics dropping to 557,200 kilograms (1.23 million pounds) in 2015 from 563,200 kilograms (1.24 million pounds) in 2014. The discrepancy was explained — salmon production was down in 2015, accounting for the difference.
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It is obvious that this latest news will be another blow to Chile's aquaculture industries, already suffering huge losses this year from fish die-offs, the red tide and plain old pollution in the waters. Added to this is the failure to find a vaccine for the potent Salmon Rickettsial Syndrome or Piscirickettsiosis (SRS), caused by a Gram-negative bacterium, Piscirickettsia salmonis.
Among the companies with the largest use of antibiotics was Australis Seafoods, using 1,062 grams of antibiotics per metric ton of fish. Cermaq, owned by Japan's Mitsubishi Corp, reported the lightest use, with 391 grams per metric ton of fish.
Last year Digital Journal reported that Costco, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s, to name just a few retailers, decided to buy salmon elsewhere because of the use of antibiotics in Chilean salmon. This year, the salmon industry has suffered a number of setbacks, so total production will also be down.
Hazorea Aquatics salmon farm  Chile.
Hazorea Aquatics salmon farm, Chile.,
But the ongoing environmental and fish health problems Chilean fisheries are having to contend with are not something new. A 2011 study discovered the increasing and excessive use of large amounts of antimicrobials being used as a prophylaxis against bacterial infections was due primarily to the widespread unsanitary and unhealthy fish rearing conditions.
A more up to date study conducted in February 2016, reported a number of antibiotic-resistant bacterial genes were found using DNA fingerprinting. This is worrisome because resistance genes from the environment could be transferred to bacteria that can infect humans, resulting in illness that resists treatment.
Actually, the study found two cases, involving urinary tract infections, one in a hospital near an aquaculture facility in Chile and another in New York City. Both cases showed the patients had a bacteria with the same genetic makeup of the marine bacteria under study, and both contained quinolone-resistant genes.
More about chile salmon industry, antibiotic use, Court order, Pollution, antibioticresistance
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