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Sea lice on salmon. (Photo Credit: Friends of the Irish Environment)

Research on sea lice control receives financial boost

  (UNITED KINGDOM, 3/31/2015)

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has announced grants worth almost GBP 950,000 (USD 1.4 million) to two research projects initiated by the salmon industry. Combined industry and academic contributions to the projects will total over GBP 3.4 million (USD 5 million).

The projects aim to boost the numbers, quality and welfare of farmed cleaner fish used in commercial salmon farms to control sea lice. Direct economic impacts are expected to include increased productivity at salmon production sites, and reduced reliance on medicines to control lice.

Other benefits of the project could include the creation of new rural jobs, and address concerns about potential environmental impacts of salmon production.

The first project will focus on boosting the numbers and quality of farmed wrasse, used as cleaner fish to control sea lice. The project proposal was submitted by a consortium of Marine Harvest Scotland, Scottish Sea Farms and Biomar. The academic partner is the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling. The project is worth GBP 4.05 million (USD 6 million) over three years, with 21 per cent of the cost coming from SAIC, 74 per cent provided by the industrial partners and the balance from the University of Stirling.

Given the potential importance of the project results to the Scottish salmon industry, the consortium has agreed to operate under the principle of open knowledge exchange.

Independent evaluation of the project by the SAIC Independent Scientific Panel members commented that the proposal was “an outstanding example of innovative science with academics working closely with industrial partners” and that “there is no doubt that this project is strategically important for the salmon industry and the Scottish economy in general.”

The second project to be funded by SAIC will assess an innovative method of cleaner fish vaccination, which will improve efficacy and fish welfare. Survival of cleaner fish on commercial salmon farms is critically important from both commercial and welfare viewpoints.

The proposal was submitted by Aqualife, a Scottish-owned SME which is a global leader in fish health and vaccination, with Scottish Sea Farms as the other commercial partner. The academic partner is the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling. SAIC has awarded the project a grant of GBP 116,801 (USD173,261), equivalent to 37 per cent of the project cost. Other contributions in cash and kind, worth GBP 237,000 (USD 351,563), are provided by the University of Stirling and industry participants.

Both projects will be formally launched later this year, and further details of both projects will be made available at their official launch, at dates to be announced. 


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