Norwegian salmon farms have nearly eliminated the use of antibiotics, according to the latest annual report from the working group set up to monitor the practice.
The annual NORM-VET report on antibiotics use in Norwegian aquaculture finds that in 2019, only 16 prescriptions were issued for Norwegian salmon farming, the lowest ever recorded. The data means that 99 per cent of Norwegian salmon were produced completely without antibiotic treatments.
The figures represent a 77 per cent reduction in the use of antibiotics compared with the previous year, and a 99 percent reduction since the late 1980s.
Dr Ørjan Olsvik, professor in medical microbiology at the University of Tromsø, Norway attributed the progress made by Norway’s aquaculture industry to “…fish health, good living conditions, a lot of cold, fresh sea water, good quality feed and feeding procedures, and extensive use of vaccines against bacterial and viral diseases, as well as excellent and dedicated veterinarians who are specialized in cold salt water aquaculture.”
The continued reduction in antibiotics use has been accompanied by an increase in salmon production. Renate Larsen, CEO at the Norwegian Seafood Council said: “Norway has never produced more salmon than in 2019, yet the use of antibiotics continues to drop. This is the result of strong focus on fish welfare and food safety in the industry, and we are proud to say Norwegian aquaculture is the best in the world when it comes to antibiotics use in animal food production.”
The aquaculture industry in Norway used 222kg of antibiotics, compared with 4,673kg used in Norwegian land animal farming.
Dr Olsvik added that the majority of those fish treated with antibiotics were exposed two to three years before coming to the market, and no antibiotic residues had been identified in fish sold to consumers.