Friday, October 31, 2014

31/10/2014: Ross salmon farm hit by 'challenging' sea lice problem

A salmon farming company has pledged to take further action over "challenging" levels of sea lice at one of its Ross-shire locations, reports the Ross-Shire Journal.

Norwegian-owned Marine Harvest said it was "extremely disappointed" with the problem it faces at Loch Duich.

Managing director Alan Sutherland said: “We have been extremely disappointed with the sea lice situation at Loch Duich.

"We have worked very hard in challenging circumstances to reduce the sea lice numbers which, at their peak, were averaging 41.7 lice per fish in this particular loch."

Sea lice are a concern in salmon aquaculture where the health and quality of the fish can be affected. Concerns have also been voiced about the possible impact on wild salmon stocks.

The company has outlined plans to introduce a sea lice predator fish across its farms and pledged to keep local communities aware of what its doing.

"We have been using a number of different treatments, but in the end we decided the best course of action was to harvest all the fish with the farm being empty by the end of September.

“We take our responsibilities to the environment very seriously.

"This is below the standards we aim to achieve as a company and we are taking action to ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future.

"All the farms in the loch system – not simply Loch Duich – have been left fallow for a considerable period.

“For the next farming cycle beginning in early 2015 we plan to introduce wrasse which have been successful in tackling sea lice in other areas.

"Wrasse, otherwise known as cleaner fish, are a sea lice predator and are being introduced across Marine Harvest farms following successful trials in Scotland in recent years.
“By having wrasse alongside salmon in our pens we have reduced the need for medicine use.

"We are still learning about working with wrasse and their welfare requirements in particular but we have been greatly encouraged by the results on other farms.
"We did try using wrasse later on in the farming cycle in Loch Duich but we realise now this was probably too late so next time they will be introduced earlier in the cycle.

“We are striving to achieve Aquaculture Stewardship Council standards on our farms and part of that process is a commitment to being open and transparent.

"We will ensure local communities are kept informed where there are any significant issues, such as this, in relation to our salmon farming operations.”

Read more HERE.

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