Scottish effort to combat sea lice infestations of farmed salmon receives funding

Published on
November 3, 2016

A joint effort to reduce sea lice infestations and increase harvests of Scottish farmed salmon has received a grant from the European Maritime Fisheries Fund.

The grantees are a group of 11 companies involved in salmon farming in Scotland, and their grant application was led by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre. The GBP 1.76 million (USD 2.2 million, EUR 1.98 million) grant will investigate the feasibility of hydrolicer and thermolicer technology. Hydrolicing uses low-pressure water jets to dislodge sea lice; thermolicing capitalizes on the parasite’s low tolerance to sudden changes in temperature by briefly bathing fish in warmer water to separate the lice from the fish. Part of the new funding will investigate the feasibility of combining hydrolicer and thermolicer technologies into a single system, according to an SAIC press release.

“Everyone is clear on the real and urgent need to reduce sea lice. However significant capital investment is required to trial new solutions,” Scottish Sea Farms Managing Director Jim Gallagher said. “The EMFF award is contributing additional resources to those invested by industry, enabling Scottish trials on a commercial scale. The new equipment will be accessible by many companies in Scotland’s salmon sector, supporting the industry’s common purpose in accelerating the widespread adoption of effective sea lice controls.”

The award was announced at the Farmed Finfish Summit, hosted by Scottish Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing.

“I am delighted to announce this EMFF funding, which will go to pilot non-medicinal interventions and foster operational innovation in Scottish aquaculture. I am sure this will further enhance the environmental sustainability credentials of this key sector,” Ewing said.

As part of the EMFF award, SAIC will commission a research project to capture the lessons learned and share best practice with the wider salmon farming sector and supply chain. The project will also look into sales possibilities for the system if and when it becomes commercially viable and feasible to market.

“The technologies being explored are capital intensive and their outcomes in Scottish waters are as yet unknown, therefore the financial and operational risks to industry are significant,” SAIC CEO Heather Jones said. “By reducing those risks, this EMFF award will help catalyze trials on a commercial scale as opposed to an ad hoc or local basis.”

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