Date of Award

Spring 2017


M.S. in Climate Science and Policy


Professor Jennifer Phillips

Second Reader

Professor Gautam Sethi

Third Reader

Professor Caroline Ramaley


Misuse of medically important antibiotics in animal production threatens the effectiveness of drugs that are vital in combating disease and infections. Recently, the FDA implemented regulations to limit the use of and access to veterinary drugs. However, these regulations only affect domestic production operations. Because over 90% of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported from countries with different regulatory standards and because the U.S. has an import inspection rate of less than 1%, antibiotic resistance stemming from imported aquaculture is still a risk that is not sufficiently accounted for. This research investigates how the U.S. has reacted to the growing issue of antibiotic resistance and explores how to further reduce bacterial resistance contributed by aquaculture imports. In addition, it demonstrates that imported fish from aquaculture production presents a risk to human health, undermining progress in U.S. regulatory control of antibiotic use. Actions taken by the FDA in recent years to curb antibiotic use is presented to illustrate the United States’ overall response and current strategy. Then a review of scientific research identifying evidence of antibiotic use and import rejection data from the FDA was used to assess the threat of resistance from imported aquaculture. The research verifies that medically important drugs are being used in aquaculture by the countries from which the U.S. imports most of its seafood. Drawing recommendations based on current E.U. policy, to better account for antibiotic resistance from imported aquaculture, the U.S. should involve exporting country authorities in trade operations to increase the degree to which U.S.-bound seafood is inspected. Greater funding to increase inspection upon arrival in the U.S. should also be allocated. Additionally, research on antibiotic alternatives should also be heavily supported as well advocacy for veterinary-style legislation in countries that do not already moderate the use of and access to antibiotics for aquaculture. Bacterial resistance from imported aquaculture is still an issue is of concern that is adequately addressed under U.S. regulations.

Access Control

Open Access