Scottish Sea Farms used no antibiotics in 2020 Photo: Scottish Sea FarmsScottish Sea Farms used no antibiotics in 2020 Photo: Scottish Sea Farms

Scottish Sea Farms has achieved what is thought to be a first in farmed fish health – no antibiotics were used in any of its farming operations in 2020.

The company has been working to reduce its use of antibiotics for several years, with none used on its marine farms since 2012 and only minimal use at its freshwater hatcheries in recent years.

Ronnie Soutar, head of veterinary services at Scottish Sea Farms, said it was a proud moment. “It is important on a global scale that antibiotic use is minimised and only used when absolutely essential, in recognition of concerns over antimicrobial resistance,” he said.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance set a goal in 2016 of 5mg antibiotic active substance per kg of salmon produced. From 2015 to 2018, Scottish Sea Farms averaged 3.6 mg/kg but in 2019 this dropped to 0.25 mg/kg with no antibiotic usage at all in 2020.

Scottish Sea Farms has achieved this milestone by adopting a holistic approach to fish health. Actions include biosecurity measures to avoid the introduction of pathogens, selecting stock for resistance to disease, daily removal of dead or moribund fish, vaccination, stress reduction and better nutrition.

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