Cermaq adding lasers to its suite of sea lice prevention methods
Cermaq Norway is adding machine-vision powered, sea-lice killing lasers to its repertoire of sea lice prevention solutions after a number of trials proved the technology is effective.
The company announced it plans to install laser delousers in facilities in Finnmark and at Ballangen in Nordland in an attempt to keep sea lice counts down. The new laser system is being sourced from Stingray Marine Solutions, which specializes in salmon lice monitoring and delousing.
“Lice lasers have been shown to keep lice levels down. We can then avoid many mechanical delousing measures and thus we avoid stressing the fish leaving them swimming in peace and quiet,” Cermaq Norway Head of Fish Health Karl Fredrik Ottem said. “Cermaq's goal is to control the level of lice to the greatest extent possible with preventive technology and laser is one of several measures that we now want to increase the use of to ensure the best possible fish welfare.”
The company said it plans to install around 140 different lasers at its sea sites Veggfjell and Svartfjell in the next few weeks, with more to be installed at other sites over time. The company said it will continue to evaluate whether the lasers are effectively controlling sea lice, and a team of laser operators will ensure optimal placement and operation of the lasers.
"The laser nodes also come with advanced monitoring of the level of lice and fish welfare, so that the sea sites will get a good insight into the development of lice and the health of the fish,” Ottem said. “Thus, we believe the use of lice lasers is the right step in terms of ensuring both fish welfare and the most sustainable production possible.”
Cermaq is not the first company to turn to lasers to control sea lice. Norwegian salmon farmer Nordlaks Group has also sourced lasers from Stingray Marine Solutions to remove sea lice from its salmonids.
Sea lice present a costly problem for salmon farmers, with an economic impact estimated to be as much as USD 600 million (EUR 573 million) each year. Cermaq already employs several other methods to control sea lice, including submersible cages, tube nets, deep lice skirts, and deep feeding.
Stingray Marine Solutions’ laser-based delousing solution has seen increased interest as a means of combating the pest without stressing salmon, and Stingray Marine Solutions Managing Director John Breivik said the new collaboration with Cermaq is a significant step for the company.
"This is a new and important milestone for us at Stingray, where we have already gained important experience for a couple of years and have been able to develop a good collaboration with Cermaq and good people at the sea sited, at a world-leading farming company, both when it comes to fish welfare and sustainability,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Cermaq/Stingray Marine Solutions