Sea Lice CleanTreat
Norwegian scale up for award winning UK innovation
THE company behind the prize winning CleanTreat filtration technology that cleanses treatment water after delousing is looking to scale up the system. Benchmark Holdings said last month it plans to invest £19 million in the breakthrough innovation ahead of the launch of its new sea lice medicine, BMK8 (formerly known as Ectosan), due in the first half of 2021.
Over the past 24 months, more than 35,000 tonnes of salmon in five Norwegian farms have been treated with BMK08, achieving approximately 99 per cent efficacy, said Benchmark.
The compound must be used in conjunction with CleanTreat, which removes medicinal residues from treatment water.
Benchmark said there is growing interest from customers for the product and it estimates that BMK08/CleanTreat sales could reach £50 million in Norway alone and £75 million globally.
However, there have been no trials of the products in Scotland yet, due to regulatory bottlenecks. The slow pace of Scottish bureaucracy emerged during the Aqua Nor show in Trondheim last August, when Benchmark won the coveted Innovation Award for CleanTreat.
John Marshall, head of Animal Health at Benchmark, said at the time that his company had been approached by all the Scottish producers, interested in deploying CleanTreat at their farms, and he hoped there would be Scottish trials soon.
Marshall and head of CleanTreat Neil Robertson held meetings during Aqua Nor with Scotland’s rural economy minister Fergus
Ewing and Graham Black, director of Marine Scotland, to try to speed up Scottish trials.
Roberston said after the discussions: ‘We’re encouraged by the positive message from the minister and from Marine Scotland. I think there is a really strong incentive to support us from the industry, and certainly from government as well.’
Marshall added: ‘The Innovation Award has helped in that everybody is saying this really works now, it’s got that big stamp of approval.
‘It’s not a case of having to have new regulation. I think there is regulation in Scotland to deal with it but, of course, regulations are interpreted and it’s about the interpretation of how you use the current regulation along with CleanTreat.’
CleanTreat, developed over a 10-year period at Ardtoe in Scotland, has the potential to be used on well boats, tankers, platforms and onshore, and has proven to be effective on most available bath treatments for sea lice, including pyrethroids, deltamethrin, and azamethiphos. The solution also removes treated sea lice, so they will not spread resistance.
Chemical based bath treatments that are released into the water are one of the biggest grounds for objections to the aquaculture industry.
Some farm sites have to treat over an extended period due to low discharge consents, but the CleanTreat system would allow treatments to be carried out over a reduced time as the
medicine has been removed from the water before discharge.
Ewing, whose office met the Benchmark team shortly after Aqua Nor, said he wanted to ensure that such sustainable technologies like CleanTreat are not only developed in Scotland but that Scotland is also an attractive place to trial such technologies.
‘Given the environmental benefits and sustainability credentials of the CleanTreat system, and huge potential for improvements in fish health, we would like to offer further support to reach a positon whereby trials could be started in Scotland.’
Representatives from Marine Scotland and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) toured a vessel fitted with the CleanTreat system last September, when it was docked in Leith before sailing for Norway to work on Norwegian salmon farms.
Norwegian agencies have been strongly supportive of the system’s development and it will be the first market for a commercial roll‐out.
Scotland was the preferred next market, but this is dependent on the regulatory process, said Benchmark.
‘We continue to actively work with the various authorities to bring this innovative process to our Scottish and Norwegian customers,’ said Robertson.
“We have been meeting with Benchmark to guide them through the regulatory framework”
At Aqua Nor, they had had meetings with potential customers in the other big salmon producing countries.
‘Many of our customers based in Norway certainly have interests in Chile and Canada as well, and the Faroe Islands,’ said Robertson during the exhibition.
Marshall added that their system is ‘revolutionising the way that we use medicines and we want to make it available for everybody’.
Benchmark has revealed plans to raise a net sum of £41.5 million – to fund CleanTreat and other business‐ through share issues.
Executive chairman Peter George said last month: ‘We are preparing to launch BMK08, our novel medicinal treatment to combat sea lice, one of the main biological challenges in salmon farming.
‘This requires scaling up CleanTreat, our proprietary system that removes medicinal residues from treatment water, and which is integral to the delivery of BMK08.
‘Having reviewed a number of funding options, we strongly believe that an equity raise is the optimal funding strategy to deliver this scale.’
A Marine Scotland spokesman told Fish Farmer in January: ‘At the moment we and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate have been meeting with Benchmark on a regular basis to guide them through the regulatory framework to allow trials to start in Scotland; this work is ongoing.’