Main content area

A comparison of modelling approaches to assess the transmission of pathogens between Scottish fish farms: The role of hydrodynamics and site biomass

Salama, Nabeil K.G., Murray, Alexander G.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2013 v.108 no.4 pp. 285-293
Aeromonas salmonicida, European Union, Infectious pancreatic necrosis virus, Infectious salmon anemia virus, Salmo salar, biomass, disease control, farm size, fish farms, hydrodynamics, infectious diseases, mathematical models, outputs, pathogens, Scotland
Scotland is the largest Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) producer in the EU with an output of over 150,000t, contributing over £500 million annually towards the economy. Production continues to increase, predominantly due to the increase in output per farm and reduction in losses due to infectious diseases. Farms are grouped within disease management areas whose boundaries are defined by where the closest pair of farms is separated by more than twice the tidal excursion distance (TE) Tidal excursion is defined as 7.2km in mainland Scotland, or 3.6km in the Shetland Islands). The majority of salmon farms are located within relatively sheltered inshore areas where non-tidal advective current speed is minimal. However there is an aspiration for offshore production where it might be possible to increase stocking levels and where current speeds will be greater so TE models could break down.Separation distances whereby farms would avoid infection risk were obtained using an analytical, discrete-time Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered (SEIR) model coupled with a hydrodynamic transport expression representing transmission of pathogenic agents between fish farms. The model incorporated transmission, expression and recovery parameters as well as pathogen shedding and decay. The simplified hydrodynamic model incorporated residual advection, tidal advection and turbulent diffusion elements. The obtained separation distances were compared to a computationally intensive, numerical model and were demonstrated to be comparable, although the analytical model underestimated the variation within the transmission distances.Applying characteristics for a robust pathogen, infectious pancreatic necrosis virus type (IPNV-type), and less robust pathogens such as infectious salmon anaemia virus type (ISAV-type) and Aeromonas salmonicida type (AS-type) pathogens, it was possible to obtain separation distances whereby farms avoided infection. Simulation outputs indicated that separation distances should increase to avoid disease as farm size and current speed increase. The more conserved IPNV-type pathogen required separation distances of hundreds of kilometres, AS-type required tens of kilometres, whilst the distances for ISAV-type were within the scale of the current DMAs, that were developed for ISAV control. However, should production be moved to areas of faster moving currents and increased farm production the current disease management area principles might need readdressing.