Smoked salmon. (Photo: Tassal)
Tassal increases salmon antibiotics use by 75 pct
Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 22:20 (GMT + 9)
Tassal Group increased its antibiotic use by 75 per cent in the 2015-2016 financial year compared to the preceding 12 months, from 172 kg to 301 kg, according to the firm’s latest sustainability report.
This report reveals that the group recorded a more than 50 per cent rise in grams of antibiotic per tonne of fish produced: from 6 g a tonne to 9.83 g, The Australian reported.
In this regard, representatives of the firm explained the increase was related to the outbreak of a bacterial infection.
“In the summer of (early) 2016, Tassal’s veterinarian diagnosed a bacterial infection in the 2016-year class (of salmon), which was possibly exacerbated by the hotter summer,” Tassal corporate engagement chief Barbara McGregor said.
In addition, Tassal’s representatives confirmed it used the drug oxytetracycline, listed as “highly important” for human health by the World Health Organisation, which argues for greater use of vaccines and other alternatives to feeding farmed animals antibiotics.
Meanwhile, Huon Aquaculture also increased antibiotic feed to salmon but to a fraction of the same level — from 2.2 kg in the 2015 calendar year to 10.2 kg in 2016, which the firm’s managers attributed to “good environmental management and fish husbandry, very low stocking densities and rigorous biosecurity”.
On the other hand, Petuna Seafoods said it had not used any antibiotics in fish production since 2014 due to vaccines.
McGregor said the use of oxytetracycline was under a “minor use permit” and complied with a veterinary code of practice.
The manager pointed out that fish treated with antibiotics had been withheld from harvesting for 90 to 120 days to ensure there was no trace in salmon products.
To Environment Tasmania strategy director Laura Kelly, Tassal’s antibiotic use appeared linked to its higher stocking rates, particularly in Macquarie Harbour, in the state’s west.
“So there’s a link between consumer health concerns and the environment degradation we’re seeing from overly intensive stocking,” Kelly concluded.
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