The consumption of aquaculture products will soar in the coming years to counteract the environmental damage caused by the livestock industry

The search for more effective vaccines to alleviate the use of antibiotics is urgent, as there are few formulas and many have become outdated by the rapid evolution of the genetics of fish and also pathogens. Specialists are looking for new tools associated with molecular biology and encourage captive breeding with sustainable systems that reduce the impact on the planet to a minimum
 
The livestock industry is one of the main responsible for the serious environmental problems that exist today, something that is of increasing concern to the scientific community and society in general, who see how the impact of climate change on our planet is becoming alarming. However, the renunciation of the consumption of animal proteins can produce negative nutritional consequences in humans, so experts believe that the intake of fish, molluscs and crustaceans from aquaculture should be increased in the coming years to prevent further deterioration of the planet.
 
"Socio-cultural trends speak of an increasingly aware population that cares about its environment, something that has promoted the generation of seals such as the ASC Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), a world-leading labeling and certification program for seafood products grown responsibly with producers seeking balance with the environment," says Cristian Gallardo Escórate, researcher in charge of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Aquaculture Genomics (LBGA) of the Department of Oceanography at the University of Concepción (UdeC), in Chile.
 
Gallardo participated today in the Third International Conference on Fish and Mollusk Immunology, organized by the Aquaculture Research Group (GIA) of the University Institute of Aquaculture and Sustainable Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), in collaboration with the International Society for Fish and Mollusc Immunology (ISFSI) which has been taking place since last Sunday at the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with the presence of more than 200 scientists and agents from the aquaculture industry.
 
According to this expert, aquaculture producers seek to obtain the ASC because their product is sold up to 25% more expensive in the market and is accepted by the consumer in a positive way knowing that this is helping the sustainability of the system. "Various studies show that by 2030 the growth in consumption of aquatic species raised in fish farms will skyrocket compared to other livestock and aquaculture species whose production is more harmful and with more side effects on the planet," he said.
 
If emissions from land use and land-use change are included, the livestock sector is responsible for 9% of CO2 from human activities, producing a much higher percentage of the most damaging greenhouse gases. Specifically, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), livestock generates 65% of man-made nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this gas comes from manure. It is also responsible for 37% of all methane produced by human activity (23 times more harmful than CO2), which originates mostly in the digestive system of ruminants, and 64% of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.
 
Search for more effective vaccines to alleviate the use of antibiotics
 
Cristian Gallardo explained that in order to obtain products of the highest quality in the aquaculture sector, it is also necessary to promote research and multiply prevention formulas. "There are only 24 licensed vaccines commercially available for use around the world, but many of them are not effective, have become outdated because the genetics of fish evolves and also pathogens, so we have to get more effective formulas and more powerful tools associated with molecular biology, in order to reduce the use of antibiotics once the pathologies occur, something that also urgently demands the World Health Organization for its effect on resistance," he said.
 
The Chilean researcher, who holds a doctorate in aquaculture, focused his presentation on "Detail of the complexity of interactions between salmon and sea lice". He said that the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Aquaculture Genomics at the University of Concepción has already found two effective vaccines that can be licensed in a couple of years to fight against different diseases of bacterial and parasitic origin (such as sea lice) in salmon.
 
"It is evident that the mass production of any animal industry generates diseases and to combat it there are only two formulas, immunology and antibiotics. Encouraging prevention is especially important for us in Chile, where the aquaculture sector is our second largest economy after mining," he said, "and more so with an aquaculture that is very concentrated in salmon farming. Gallardo explained, however, that "here in Europe they also have a big problem in breeding centers in Norway and Scotland (United Kingdom) with sea lice, which is also a parasite that affects not only farmed salmon, but also wild salmon, so our research will provide a great global service," he explained.
 
During the Third International Conference on Fish and Molluscs Immunology, 139 oral communications and 87 posters are being presented, which will provide a key network and educational interface for the different agents involved in the industry, the scientific community, health providers and independent research organisations to work together.
 
The main sponsor of this congress is the Seppic laboratory of the Air Liquide Group, and the Chilean laboratory Pathovet, the company VWR and the Canarian companies ADDIAGNOST, BIOTEIN, BIOSIGMA have also collaborated. Elsevier and The Fisht Site dissemination platforms, the Bioasis Gran Canaria initiative, managed by the Sociedad de Promoción Económica de Gran Canaria (SPEGC) of the Cabildo Insular, and the Gran Canaria Convention Bureau have also participated as partners in the congress.