Salmon thrive in Shet­land lice shield trial

Fish Farmer - - News - Left: Lice shield has been ef­fec­tive

THE in­tro­duc­tion of lice shields at a Scot­tish salmon farm has re­sulted in a healthy crop that has out­per­formed all pre­vi­ous years.

Scot­tish Sea Farms in­stalled the pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure at its farm at Slocka, Ronas Voe, on Shet­land in May 2017.

In the nine months since, sea lice lev­els have re­mained be­low the Marine Scot­land Code of Good Prac­tice thresh­old, and the salmon are show­ing strong growth and bi­o­log­i­cal per­for­mance, said the com­pany.

Spe­cially en­gi­neered to suit Scot­tish marine con­di­tions, each shield con­sists of a per­me­able fab­ric that lets wa­ter and oxy­gen move freely into fish pens while keep­ing nat­u­ral health threats out.

This fab­ric fully en­cases the pen to a depth of 6m, pro­vid­ing a bar­rier against sea lice which are most com­monly found in the first few me­tres be­low the wa­ter’s sur­face.

Such has been the ef­fec­tive­ness of the shields that Scot­tish Sea Farms has now in­vested over £800,000 with two Scot­tish sup­pli­ers – Wil­liam Milne Tar­pau­lins in Aberdeen and W&J Knox in Ayr­shire – in or­der to roll out sim­i­lar pro­tec­tion to 11 of its other farms.The com­pany is also ELE­work­ing with neigh­bour­ing salmon grow­ers to syn­chro­nise the use of the shields, as part of a farm man­age­ment agree­ment for those ar­eas.

Jim Gal­lagher, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Scot­tish Sea Farms, said:‘We strive, wher­ever pos­si­ble, to repli­cate the nat­u­ral con­di­tions that salmon are known to thrive in.As any farmer will un­der­stand, how­ever, this comes with its own risks as the marine en­vi­ron­ment presents new chal­lenges all the time.We are con­tin­u­ally ex­plor­ing and in­vest­ing in new ways of deal­ing with these chal­lenges, and it’s hugely en­cour­ag­ing to see pos­i­tive early re­sults such as these at our trial project in Shet­land.’

This lat­est ad­vance is part of a wider £11.8 mil­lion in­vest­ment in 2017 by the com­pany to en­hance the health and wel­fare of its salmon – over 85 per cent of which is be­ing spent on non-medic­i­nal ap­proaches.The com­pany said six of its farms re­quired no sea lice in­ter­ven­tions at all dur­ing 2017.

Scot­tish Sea Farms has also in­vested ap­prox­i­mately £200,000 in en­vi­ron­men­tal data mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment, as well as more than £260,000 on un­der­wa­ter cam­era sys­tems, to com­bat new plank­tonic or­gan­isms po­ten­tially harm­ful to gill health.

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