Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Sustainable Seafood

Chile’s salmon aquaculture benefits from fallowing – and so too could trout farmers

In Chilean salmonid farmers’ worst nightmares, Piscirickettsia salmonis must be a regular feature. This bacterium causes Salmon Rickettsial Septicaemia (SRS), a highly infectious disease whose symptoms include haemorrhaging, lesions, ulcers, anorexia, and many cases death.

SRS is an epidemic in Chile, costing the salmon aquaculture industry over US $300 million each year. Vaccines have been largely ineffective and antibiotics have given mixed results. Mandatory three-month fallowing, on the other hand, seems to routinely reduce the chance of reinfection.

The underlying principle behind fallowing is fairly straightforward. Net-pen systems commonly used by finfish farmers allow pathogens to spread into the wider environment. Some are carried away by currents, some remain suspended in the water column or on the seafloor under and near the farm. In all cases, they wait for a new host to come close enough for reinfection. Fortunately for the fish, and the farmer, pathogens can’t survive forever without a host – which is where fallowing comes in. Take the hosts away and all the equipment out of the water for disinfection, and the odds of contagion rapidly drop…


This article was written for The Fish Site – please continue reading here.

What The Oceans Do For Us

What the oceans do for us: medicine from the sea

Humans are not infallible.  We get sick, we get injured.  Humans are a clever bunch though, and since prehistoric times we have used medicine to try to heal our ailments.  Medical science has made huge leaps and bounds, providing treatments and vaccinations, surgical procedures, and physical and psychological therapies that have allowed people to survive – and thrive – injuries and illnesses which would have once been fatal.  Medical science never stops evolving, learning, and searching for more ways to keep us in tip-top condition.  That search includes delving beneath the ocean waves.  Here’s just a couple of open access examples of how medical science has been furthered by studying ocean creatures: Continue reading “What the oceans do for us: medicine from the sea”

What The Oceans Do For Us

Sea of miracles: industrial uses for ocean biodiversity

 We are constantly on the search for ideas on how to improve our current technologies, like those used in agriculture or in medicine.  Searches can lead us to looking into the natural environment, revealing an array of compounds that can prove extremely useful.

Elizabeth Evans-Illidge from the Australian Institute of Marine Science argues that the oceans are an enormous source of compounds that have a wide range of uses – and we have only just began scratching the surface.

Elizabeth notes that protecting our marine ecosystems in their entirety is vital for ensuring that the myriad species (and their potentially useful compounds) are available for biodiscovery – the search for natural-based compounds that have potential applications.  She also argues that we need to take a good look at the legal and jurisdictional issues that may be hampering biodiscovery.

If you fancy reading a little more on biodiscovery (and subsequently bioprospecting – when we go back to gather more of the organisms) you can have a look at this FAO workshop paper

Image: Marine organisms have helped produce a number of medicinal technologies including bone grafts from coral skeletons.  Courtesy of NOAA