Sea lice treatment, big in Norway and UK, eyes Faroes and Chile


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 1, 2014

The only insecticide approved for the treatment of sea lice infestations in Norway’s and Scotland’s salmon farms has received approval from authorities in the Faroe Islands and is targeting a launch in Chile later this year.

Neptune Pharma first gained marketing authorization from the U.K. Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NoMA) for its product Azasure (formerly Trident) in December 2013. It is the only company authorized to sell azamethiphos-based treatments in Norway and has had 100 percent of the market since April, when Benchmark Holdings ceased operations on the advice of NoMA.

The company’s position was made even stronger in May when the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (FSA) warned salmon farmers that they must stay below legal limits for sea lice or be forced to slaughter their fish.

Sales of the treatment in Norway have grown steadily this year and Adrian Endacott, CEO of Neptune Pharma, cites this success as the springboard for the company’s global expansion plans.

“Sea lice are a serious problem to salmon farmers around the world, and we are working with the industry to help tackle these parasites,” said Endacott.

The Sea Lice Research Center at Bergen University, Norway, estimates that sea lice cause EUR 300 million (USD 377.8 million) in damages annually to the aquaculture industry, particularly to producers of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Last year, Marine Harvest, the world’s leading salmon producer, spent EUR 18.5 million (USD 23.3 million) tackling the problem.

The Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries permits farms to have no more than 0.5 adult female lice on average per farmed fish. In 2010, following a severe increase in infestations the previous year, this was tightened in spring months to 0.1 lice per fish. Furthermore, if farms wish to increase in size, they must adhere to a limit of less than 0.1 lice per fish in order to increase the farm’s total biomass by a maximum of 5 percent.

Similarly, there are different spring limits in Scotland of 0.5 adult female lice from 1 February through 30 June and an average of 1 per fish from 1 July through 31 January. This is part of the industry code of good practice, which all members of the leading trades bodies — Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), the British Trout Association (BTA), and the British Marine Finfish Association (BMFA) — adhere to. 

There have been calls from some U.K. stakeholders to bring parity with Norway’s spring adjustment of 0.1 lice per fish.

Neptune changed the treatment’s name from Trident to Azasure on 30 September.

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