Lenfest Ocean Program

Supporting Science and Communicating Results

Published Paper

Aquaculture As Yet another Environmental Gateway to the Development and Globalisation of Antimicrobial Resistance

Cabello, F. C., Godfrey, H. P., Buschmann, A. H., & Dölz, H. J. (2016). Aquaculture as yet another environmental gateway to the development and globalisation of antimicrobial resistance. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 16(7), e127–e133. DOI:10.1016/s1473-3099(16)00100-6

Key Findings

  • The rapid growth of commercial aquaculture since the 1970s has led to a corresponding increase in the use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial compounds to prevent infection among fish and shellfish. In some countries, antimicrobial use in aquaculture has surpassed use in human medicine.
  • Aquatic environments are frequently contaminated with human and animal pathogens and antimicrobials from land-based sources. Antimicrobials, from whatever source, can assert selective pressure for horizontal gene transfer, the direct movement of genetic material between two organisms other than by descent from parent to offspring. This transfer can lead to the creation of new antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and their dissemination into human and animal populations.
  • In this Personal View article, the authors state that a holistic focus of human, animal, and environmental health is critical to make headway against the increasing problem of antimicrobial resistance. Developing new antimicrobial drugs alone will not be sufficient to prevent a major crisis in the treatment of bacterial infectious diseases.
  • The authors urge farmers, local veterinarians, and consumers to understand the risks of antimicrobial use and adopt new usage methods, including limiting use of human antimicrobial drugs in aquaculture, conducting human risk assessments, increasing the use of vaccines and probiotics, and improving surveillance and reporting.

The full publication is available here:


Media Contact

Elizabeth Striano

Officer, Communications