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Plan to control use of veterinary drugs in aquaculture industry

Wang Xiaodong
Updated: Feb 16,2019 7:02 AM     China Daily

The use of veterinary drugs in aquaculture will be strictly supervised to ensure the safety and quality of aquatic products, according to a guideline aimed at promoting green development of the industry in China.

The authorities will step up efforts to develop ecologically friendly aquaculture to improve the quality of farmed fish and shellfish and minimize the environmental impact of raising them, according to the guideline jointly released by 10 central government agencies, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The guideline, made public on Feb 15, is the first of its kind since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The use of veterinary drugs will be reduced through the promotion of vaccination and ecological means to prevent diseases, the guideline said. The authorities will also provide more support for the development and research of safer and more environmentally friendly drugs for use in aquaculture.

Government departments will establish and improve a record system for the use of veterinary drugs, improve guidance to people raising aquatic products on the proper use of drugs, and intensify law enforcement over the use of drugs in aquaculture, according to the guideline.

The total output of aquaculture in China exceeded 50 million metric tons last year, accounting for more than 78 percent of the country’s total output of aquatic products, Yu Kangzhen, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said. China is the only country in the world that raises more aquatic products than it catches by fishing, he said.

Zhang Xianliang, chief of the ministry’s fishing administration, said the safety and quality of aquatic products in China has kept improving. Last year, more than 97 percent of products were up to standard according to marketing monitoring, up from 94 percent in 2013, he said.

To improve safety and quality of aquatic products, Zhang said the authorities will intensify supervision of the use of veterinary drugs, and severely fight irregularities such as the production or sale of fake or substandard drugs for aquaculture.

China is a major producer and user of veterinary drugs, and problems such as the improper use of antibiotics in the raising of animals have prompted food safety concerns among the public. The authorities have responded by implementing more measures in recent years to address those concerns.

The production and sale of fake or substandard antibiotics will be checked effectively, and the use of banned drugs will be eliminated by the end of this year, according to a plan released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in 2017. More than 97 percent of all meat products, including aquatic products, will pass tests for antibiotic residue by the end of the year, the ministry said.