The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has launched the first of its Rapid Response projects with an initiative that will explore the potential of a novel approach to ultrasound to delouse farmed salmon and, ultimately, increase harvest volumes.
The six-month project brings together industry partner Pulcea with academic partners from the University of Dundee and the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling to research the efficacy of ultrasound in targeting and dislodging naturally occurring sea lice in a non-invasive and non-harmful way.
Says Heather Jones, CEO of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC): “This innovative new project is precisely the kind of initiative that our Rapid Response scheme was set up to support. It is small-scale at this stage but, if successful, could have a significant positive impact on the aquaculture industry not just in Scotland but around the world.”
Awarded grant funding of £39,467 by SAIC, the project seeks to quickly determine the ability of ultrasound to delouse salmon in a way that neither harms the host fish nor the environment.
Explains Dr Paul Campbell, Reader of Physics at University of Dundee: “We’re taking a technique that’s proven successful in human medicine and we’re carefully re-engineering it to explore its effectiveness in advancing fish health.”
If the preliminary results are positive, the industry-academia partnership intends to upscale the ultrasound-based treatment to a comprehensive marine engineering solution with global reach.
Comments Ian Armstrong, Managing Director of Pulcea: “As sea lice continue to evolve, so too must the industry’s response if we’re to maximise fish welfare, minimise loss and increase the volume of farmed salmon. This project could be another important step towards that, potentially delivering a commercially-viable new sea lice treatment that complements the range of controls already available.”
Maximising harvest volumes is just one of the anticipated outcomes of the project. Adds Ian: “As we progress further into our research, we hope to make a number of other discoveries that will benefit fish health and welfare. These, in turn, could help to unlock the industry’s growth potential and deliver real economic benefit to Scottish aquaculture and beyond.”