Consortium trials new fish delousing technology using sound

Photo: Pulcea

A new anti-sea lice treatment concept under development with the aim of helping make aquaculture more sustainable has successfully completed environmental safety trials in Scotland, the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has confirmed.

The multinational consortium behind the BREEZE initiative carried out the week-long trials at a Shetland salmon farm owned and operated by Scottish Sea Farms.

The treatment combines hydrogen peroxide with sound-based technology developed by UK research organisation Pulcea to help remove sea lice without compromising fish health.

The fish are bathed in hydrogen peroxide, and sound energy is then used to cause the oscillation of the oxygen bubbles that are subsequently formed. The bubbles attach to the lice during the oscillation, ultimately damaging them without any serious adverse effects on the fish.

The trials validated modelling already carried out and have shown that the sonic technology used to treat fish against sea lice can operate safely in an open marine environment.

“Contrary to what its name might suggest, hydrogen peroxide is extremely gentle both on fish and environment,” said Dr Ralph Bickerdike, Head of Fish Health at Scottish Sea Farms. “Administered at a low concentration – typically, a tenth of the strength used in an everyday mouthwash – it’s highly effective at dislodging sea lice before rapidly breaking down into just water and oxygen.”

“The recent trials, undertaken without any fish present at the farm, have shown that this treatment can also be used under operational conditions without detriment to nearby marine mammal inhabitants or to human health,” added Ian Armstrong, Managing Director of Pulcea.

Armstrong said that the BREEZE consortium is now ready to proceed to operational trials in Norway where the Aqua Pharma Group, as commercial lead of the consortium, has vessels and crew available for deployment of the Pulcea technology.

The BREEZE project consortium also includes the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

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