Updates on Aquatic Parasites in Fisheries: Implications to Food Safety, Food Security and Environmental Protection

Karl Marx A Quiazon

Cheap protein sources from fishery products comes from both capture fishery and aquaculture industries. Despite the available technologies that help increase wild catch and aquaculture production, our food security is being threatened by several factors including parasitic infections. Zoonotic parasites infecting our fishery products are one of the several concerns in our food safety. Among these include the infections with the nematode Anisakis among marine fishes and cephalopods causing human anisakiasis and/or allergy-associated health risks, the nematode Gnathostoma causing gnathostomiasis, and food poisoning due to the myxozoan infection of the genus Kudoa. On the other hand, the increasing human population, dwindling fish catch from the wild, degradation of aquatic environment, and declining or slow growth of aquaculture sector due to parasitic diseases are all posing global threat to the security and sustainability of fish supplies. The wild fish populations are affected by the parasitic diseases that directly and indirectly affect fish reproduction, growth and survival, whereas intensifications of aquaculture operations cause fish health problems associated to parasitic diseases resulting to decline in production. Despite these negative impacts of parasites, there are several parasite groups that are used as biological indicators for food chain structure, heavy metal contamination, environmental pollutions and fish stock assessment (i.e., nematodes Anisakis, Hysterothylacium, Anguillicola, Spirophilometra, Raphidascaris and Philometra; acanthocephalans Pomphorhynchus, Serrasentis and Acanthocephalus; cestodes Bothriocephalus, Monobothrium and Ligula; monogenean Pseudorhabdosynochus; and digenean Didymodiclinus), as well as reducer of heavy metal accumulation in the body of their host fish (i.e., acanthocephalans Pomphorhynchus and Acanthocephalus). The use of these parasites for proper management of fishery resources can be of help in addressing food safety, fish security and food sustainability while at the same time managing our fishery resources. As we are addressing these global issues, these parasites that we are considering as threat can be of useful value to attain sustainable development.