Report: Scotland to remove sea lice drug from market


James Wright, Senior Editor

Published on
May 11, 2015

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has persuaded the manufacturer of an aquaculture veterinary drug to withdraw its product from the market because of impacts to shellfish on the sea floor.

According to a Herald Scotland report, Pharmaq will voluntarily stop marketing teflubenzuron, a sea lice-prevention chemical marketed under the brand name Calicide, to the U.K. market. The news outlet quoted the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organization saying that teflubenzuron was “not an issue in salmon farming in Scotland today because it is so rarely used.” The product's manufacturer, Skretting, said that it “will no longer be offered in Scotland pending further review with all stakeholders.”

Sea lice can kill or stunt the growth of salmon, causing major economic losses for producers. The chemical in feed pellets, however, can  fall to the sea floor if uneaten, or simply be excreted from the infested fish, impacting crabs, shrimps and lobsters.

Activists in the region are warn that replacement drugs could do just as much harm, and are demanding a much broader legal ban, as is the Orkney Fisheries Association, which represents more than 50 fishing vessels and processors. 

“Teflubenzuron has not been used by fish farms in Scotland since 2013,” SEPA aquaculture specialist Douglas Sinclair told the Sunday Herald. “SEPA recently discussed the residues of teflubenzuron arising from the use of the medicine in Scotland with the company which markets the product. The company agreed to remove the product from the market in Scotland. Further use is therefore unlikely."

The article referenced research by the Institute of Marine Research and the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research in Bergen, Norway, that detected high concentrations of teflubenzuron in sediment around a salmon farm on a fjord north of the city.

Researchers estimated that it took 170 days for teflubenzuron pollution to reduce by half, suggesting that it will persist in the marine environment for years. The drug was found in most of the wildlife they tested, including worms, crabs and fish.

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