Cermaq purchases new chemical-free, portable lice-removal technology

Published on
September 15, 2020

Cermaq Canada has announced it has purchased a new mechanical sea lice removal solution for use at saltwater farm sites on Vancouver Island, focusing on the sites at Discovery Islands and the Broughton Acrchipelago.  

The purchase follows the successful use of the Hydrolicer at the company’s operations on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Sea lice are a well-known problem for ocean-based salmon aquaculture, with companies spending millions each year to try and prevent sea-lice related losses.

The purchase, according to Cermaq Canada Managing Director David Kiemele, is part of the company’s ongoing push to eliminate the need for chemical solutions for sea lice.

“As a company, we made the global commitment to move to prevention, and non-chemical means of treating for sea lice as our first lines of defense. Over the last few years, Cermaq has partnered with a company – Sea Farm Innovations (SFI), based in the Faroe Islands - on the development of a new technology, similar to our Hydrolicer,” Kiemele said.

The new system is entirely chemical free and uses pressurized water to remove the lice.

“The SFI System uses only pressurized, ambient-temperature ocean water to remove sea lice and eggs using directional spray. No chemicals or medications are used for the treatment and the system captures the removed lice and eggs for disposal on land following treatment,” Kiemele said.

The system, according to Cermaq, will be able to process 200 metric tons of fish per hour under ideal conditions.

“The fish are brought into the SFI System through the intake pump, where they then travel to the gravity controlled flushing chamber. The system has a patented flushing technology that loosens, then removes sea lice from the fish. The system does a great job of removing lice, while still being gentle on the fish,” Cermaq Canada Innovation Director Brock Thomson said. “The short treatment duration – about 0.2 seconds per fish – is also important to note as this creates minimal stress, which also helps to support better welfare for our fish.”

Where the new technology differs from the company’s existing Hydrolicer is its portability, allowing it to move between farm sites.

“The system is significantly more compact than the Hydrolicer, and it will be on a vessel, which means our employees will be able to travel between farm sites without the use of a tug boat,” Kiemele said.

The new system, according to Cermaq, cost roughly USD 14 million (EUR 11.7 million) for both the lice-removal system and the vessel on which the system will be mounted. It is scheduled to arrive in the area it will be used in early 2021.

In advance of the technology’s arrival in Canada, it will be trialed at the company’s Norwegian operations to ensure it is ready for use before it is inspected in Canada to verify that it meets safety standards, among other regulations.

“We have used this technology at our farms in Chile with good success and we are excited to bring it here to our Canadian operations,” Thomson said.  

Images courtesy of Cermaq Canada

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