Lumpfish projects could boost sea lice control18th November 2015

Lumpfish projects could boost sea lice controlPhoto: Pablo Gordillo Chueca


Two new research projects initiated by SAIC will increase the sustainable supply of cleaner-fish for use in sea lice control in the Scottish salmon industry.

The context

Salmon is Scotland’s single largest food export, with overseas sales valued at £500 million. An industry-wide challenge is the control of sea lice, natural parasites that attach to wild and farmed salmon and slow growth. Typical measures around sea lice control include husbandry techniques and licensed medicines, but the industry is looking to add new methods.

The commercial use of cleaner-fish as a means of sea lice control has gathered momentum over the past few years. Like wrasse, lumpsuckers can cohabit with salmon and feed on sea lice, and they have been identified as a complementary species to wrasse in boosting the supply of cleaner-fish to the industry.

Project 1: lumpfish sustainable supply and deployment

The first project aims to establish a secure and sustainable supply of lumpfish for Scottish salmon farms and to optimise their deployment for effective sea lice control. It will take a range of technologies that have proof of concept in the laboratory through to prototyping in the commercial environment. Heading the research will be a team from the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling.

SAIC has awarded a grant of £817,473 to the project, which is valued at a total £2.44 million. Other contributions are coming from five commercial partners – Marine Harvest Scotland, Benchmark Animal Health, BioMar, The Scottish Salmon Company and Otter Ferry Seafish – as well as the University of Stirling.

The outputs

Among the planned outputs of the project are protocols for breeding, feeding and deploying lumpsuckers into salmon farms; new products, such as feeds and vaccines; and knowledge to provide Scottish salmon producers with a viable, sustainable and efficient source of cleaner-fish for sea lice control.

“Research into cleaner-fish is of great potential value to the economic development of the Scottish aquaculture industry. The Institute of Aquaculture is leading world-class research focused on cleaner-fish, and will bring its full range of expertise to address key knowledge gaps which are limiting the implementation and welfare of lumpsucker fish.”

Professor Hervé Migaud, Director of Research, Institute of Aquaculture

Project 2: lumpfish welfare

The second project aims to improve the welfare of lumpfish deployed in Scottish salmon farms, through a detailed analysis of the biological needs and disease challenges facing them when they are raised in hatcheries and deployed in salmon pens.

The project is a collaboration between Fish Vet Group, FAI Aquaculture, Scottish Sea Farms, The Scottish Salmon Company, Grieg Seafood Shetland, Cooke Aquaculture, and the Institute of Aquaculture. SAIC has awarded a grant worth £120,680 to the £475,851 project.

The outputs

The two main objectives of the research are:

  • assessment of the main causes of mortality in both hatcheries and sea pens for lumpfish farmed in Scotland, by conducting an extensive epidemiological study
  • to improve the overall welfare of the species by developing efficient Operational Welfare Indicators and making recommendations for improved practices.

The results of this research could ultimately increase the supply of cleaner-fish to industry.

“The developing use of biological methods to control sea lice is exciting, and we are delighted that these two collaborative projects could open the way for the wider deployment of cleaner-fish on Scottish salmon farms.”

Jeremy Ryland Langley, Aquaculture and Fisheries Manager, Waitrose



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