Scottish Sea Farms achieved a first in farmed fish health, no use of antibiotics in any of its farming operations in 2020.
The company has been working proactively to reduce its use of antibiotics for several years, with no antibiotics used on its marine farms since 2012 and only minimal use at its freshwater hatcheries in recent years. In 2020, however, the company achieved the milestone of zero antibiotic usage, representing an important first both for Scottish Sea Farms and for the Scottish sector as a whole.
“We’re very proud to have reached this stage. It is important on a global scale that antibiotic use is minimized and only used when essential, in recognition of concerns over antimicrobial resistance,” said Ronnie Soutar, head of Veterinary Services at Scottish Sea Farms. “Our use in the hatcheries has been because infections can occur before fish are big enough to be vaccinated. However, new husbandry protocols and major investment in biosecure facilities are making such infections increasingly rare.”
The company has adopted a holistic approach to fish health and welfare, with vets involved in farm management, and this has helped to bring down antibiotic use to zero. “We will consider antibiotic use if, in specific circumstances, veterinary advice is that it is essential for the protection of fish welfare. The important thing is to keep applying the lessons learned, from dealing with other bacterial diseases to new threats and developing more vaccines to further reduce the need for antibiotics. The last year has really confirmed our long-held belief that vaccines are the answer.”