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United front against sea lice

Scotland’s leading salmon and trout producers are collaborating on a research project that's aimed at solving one of the industry’s biggest problems — sea lice.

The 12-month study is hoped to result to enhanced sea lice treatments, reduced use of medicines and shorter treatment times – all of which will further enhance fish health and welfare, and help deliver higher production volumes not just for Scotland's fish farmers but for the salmon industry at large.

Currently, two possible ways of treating farmed Atlantic salmon against sea lice – a key barrier to sector growth – are to bathe the fish either in freshwater or hydrogen peroxide, which quickly breaks down into water and oxygen. What happens when freshwater and hydogen peroxide-based treatment Paramove are combined? That is what the project seeks to determine.

Project co-sponsors— the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), Marine Harvest Scotland and Dawnfresh Seafoods — have teamed up with Solvay Interox, Aqua Pharma and academics at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture in the $323,145-study (£242,985).

“This is early stage, investigative work being conducted within controlled tanks at the Marine Environmental Research Laboratory, part of the University of Stirling's Institute of Aquaculture, based at Machrihanish. There, we hope to confirm the efficacy of using freshwater and Paramove in conjunction with one another, and, in doing so, contribute to the ongoing efforts of the industry in sea lice control,” says Richard Hopewell, Fish Health Manager for Dawnfresh Seafoods and lead industry partner.

SAIC CEO Heather Jones adds: “This project has the potential to be particularly ground-breaking. Not only does it see salmon and trout producers unite against a key challenge, but if it succeeds in delivering a more effective sea lice control using available, environmentally friendly resources then the entire sector stands to make huge commercial gains in the drive to grow Scotland’s market share.”

It’s thought that the applied research project could lead to further collaboration between salmon and trout producers to establish the therapeutic value of other approved sea lice treatments at low salinities.