Sea Lice 2016: in summary29th September 2016

Sea Lice 2016: in summary

By Jason Cleaversmith, Aquaculture Innovation Director at SAIC

Some folks get all the luck – Sea Lice 2016 in Westport, Ireland, where 300 industry and academic participants took part in a 72-hour sea lice focused extravaganza. A truly international event, commensurate with the challenge, with attendees from Australia, Canada, Chile, Faroes, Ireland, Norway and, of course, Scotland (amongst others).

The challenge needs no definition but the volume of both posters and oral presentations, in addition to the informal networking, highlighted the breadth and depth of commitment the sector has in addressing this issue.

This was the 11th consecutive year that the event has been run and presentations from industry, academics and third party attendees highlighted an evolving understanding and the diverse range of approaches being explored in the pursuit of a tool box approach to sea lice management.

Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any single panacea solution on the horizon. However, the multitude of approaches and subject matter covered during the event gave grounds for cautious optimism.

Presentations included a range of related subject matters including sea lice biology, genetics, wild fish interactions, modelling, resistance development and immunomodulation, along with key sessions on biological and physical control methods and sea lice management methodologies.

Of particular note, and moving beyond some of the humbling technospeak, there appeared to be some significant advances in the sophistication of sea lice dispersal modelling capabilities, the use of genomics in family selection for reduced attachment and an increase in our understanding of semiochemical signalling/phytochemistry and their application as masking agents.

An overview of some new and modified chemotherapeutant application methodologies was provided, along with insights into new drug targets and mechanisms of drug resistance for existing medicines, which may in time allow for new medicinal tools for sea lice management.

Cleaner fish also had a prominent role in the schedule with a clear message that we are still quite early in this endeavour, with much more to learn, and opportunities for optimising the efficacy of our lice munching friends. The need to maintain a commitment to integrated pest management using a suite of lice management tools (biological, physical and medicinal methodologies) was a strong message, along with a constant reminder of the evolutionary wizardry of the louse as a warning to those who would consider single method management strategies if a ‘temporary’ magic bullet was to be found.

As a bonus for SAIC, and for our consortium members, a joint cleaner fish ‘best practice’ event is now in the works, partnering with FHF, Norway, and tentatively scheduled for spring 2017 in Edinburgh. This event will be industry-led, supported by keynote academic input, and will have attendees from key European farming countries.

And finally, in breaking news, Scotland is bidding to host Sea Lice 2018. Your support and assistance would be much appreciated – more details will be announced as and when we have them.

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