November 8, 2023


Scotland's salmon farms decrease antibiotic usage by over 50% in one year



A recent report from the United Kingdom government has revealed that salmon farming companies in Scotland have significantly reduced their antibiotic usage by more than 50% within a year, Global Seafood Alliance reported.


The Veterinary Medicines Directorate's Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) report demonstrates a substantial decrease, with antibiotic usage in salmon registering at 18.6 mg/kg in 2022, which marks a significant drop from 43.1 mg/kg in 2021. This reduction comes in the wake of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated longer periods of time for fish to remain in the sea. Ensuring the health of larger fish required additional care, at times involving antibiotics to address bacterial issues.


Dr Iain Berrill, the head of technical affairs at Salmon Scotland, a trade body, emphasised the responsible and sparing use of antibiotics when needed for the well-being of fish. He said like any medicine, antibiotics are used responsibly, sparingly, and only when required in the health and welfare interests of their fish, and only under prescription from licensed veterinarians. The need to shield fish from environmental challenges meant that significantly fewer antibiotics were used in the past 12 months, primarily on a small number of farms.


In the previous year, fewer than 10% of seawater farms used antibiotics, indicating that the majority of salmon farms did not require antibiotic treatments. The farms that did use antibiotics administered less than half the quantity used in the previous year, signifying that the environmental challenges that necessitated antibiotic intervention had eased in 2022.


The quantity of antibiotics used last year was only marginally higher than the levels recorded in 2017 when this data was initially compiled.


Berrill reaffirmed their commitment to transparency and their intention to minimize antibiotic usage to instil confidence in consumers when enjoying the nutritious and delectable food produced in Scotland.


-      Global Seafood Alliance