Fewer people realize that the aquaculture industry also has an antibiotics problem. Just like raising livestock and poultry, many large-scale fish farming operations rely on the misuse and overuse of antibiotics to compensate for crowded, stressful conditions.
Many fish and other seafood are given low doses of antibiotics in feed over long periods of time to try to prevent the spread of illness. These practices lead to the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Imagine taking a low dose of antibiotics every day to prevent getting sick, rather than going to the doctor to get a prescription or antibiotics when you actually are sick.
Aquaculture production has grown substantially over the last several decades. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), total global aquaculture pro- duction has reached nearly 67 billion tons. Aquaculture has risen from just over 13 percent of total global fish production to 42 percent since 1990.
The use of antibiotics in aquaculture varies widely around the world. Since most of the seafood that we eat in the United States is imported, practices used around the world have the potential to affect anyone who consumes seafood. The risks from this poorly regulated industry include residues of antibiotics and other drugs that remain in the products that we eat, as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria created by the overuse of antibiotics.