Novel disease controls in aquaculture to deliver poverty reduction

Swansea University has been successful in attracting over £2m funding, as part of a consortium of nine research institutes and universities in India, the UK and Bangladesh, to alleviate poverty within poor farming communities in Bangladesh and India by controlling disease risk in fish and crustacean aquaculture.

Diseased shrimp Infectious disease outbreaks limit the necessary sustainable expansion of the aquaculture industry to meet the challenges of Global Food Security and poverty alleviation. Global losses to White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV), the cause of White Spot Disease (WSD) in shrimp and other crustaceans, have been estimated to cost between US$ 8 - 15 bn.

At least 94 species of fish are affected by ulcerative syndromes (EUS) caused by the pathogenic fungal-like oomycete Aphanomyces invadans, and in the period 1988–89 Bangladesh suffered a revenue loss of US$ 4.8 million due to EUS.

‌Dr. Sergei Shubin, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, College of Science, lead on this project said: “I am excited about this opportunity to develop collaboration with our UK and international partners and contribute to poverty alleviation, community empowerment and participatory research in India and Bangladesh. This project builds on our previous successful interdisciplinary anti-poverty projects in Brazil and Zambia supported by the Newton Fund and Research Councils UK, and we look forward to continue to develop sustainable solutions, building community resilience and helping people in developing counties get out of poverty”.

Shrimp farm and tiger shrimpThe consortium will engage local farming communities in Bangladesh and India to identify their existing best practice, and their experience of poverty and the socioeconomic impact of two key disease outbreaks of Asian aquaculture. Using participatory methods, the researchers will work with farmers in India and Bangladesh to identify existing best practice to formulate new guidelines to disseminate throughout farming communities across Asia. The team will also develop new understanding of the host pathogen interaction for both diseases, with the intention of developing future novel intervention methods with which to tackle infection, reduce disease risk, improve food security and alleviate poverty. 

Images -

Fig. 1. White Spot Syndrome Virus-infected tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon (Image courtesy of Dr A.S. Sahul Hameed, C. Abdul Hakeem College, India)

Fig 2. Fig. 3. Shrimp farm in India (left) and harvested tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon (right) (Image courtesy of Dr A.S. Sahul Hameed, C. Abdul Hakeem College, India)