It’s estimated that the human population will be nine billion by 2030. The Food and Agriculture Organisation believes that aquaculture, which currently provides around half of the fish and shellfish eaten around the world, is the only agricultural industry with the potential to meet the protein requirements of this size of population.
However, one of the biggest constraints to achieving this is the depletion of stock levels through disease. Biosecurity measures, which aim to prevent, control and ideally eradicate disease are regarded as essential. However, encouraging the adoption of these practices are often difficult due to aquatic farmers’ levels of education, training, responsibility and perceived economic benefits. In addition, global estimates of disease losses may appear remote and irrelevant to farmers and producers.
Having seen Palisade’s risk analysis tool @RISK being demonstrated, Dr Chris Walster, a qualified veterinary surgeon and the secretary of the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association (WAVMA), started using the program to calculate the realistic risk of aquatic disease to farms, with a focus on cases where data inputs were limited. The capacity of @RISK to present data in an easy to understand way meant farmers could more easily understand the disease risk probabilities, review the cost/benefit of disease prevention and make informed choices about whether to put controls in place.
“@RISK enables farmers to reduce the risk of disease spreading amongst their animals whilst minimising additional costs,” Dr Walster explains. “For aquatic vets, the key is the graphs which allow us to demonstrate a complex probability problem quickly and simply in a way that is easy to understand and trust. These inform decision-making, thereby helping to boost the world’s aquatic stock whilst safeguarding farmers’ livelihoods.”
“This technique also potentially offers an economical method of assisting in the control of many diseases. Farmers undertake their own tests, with each of these providing incremental inputs so that the macro picture can be developed and acted upon,” concludes Walster.