Benchmark’s CleanTreat set for Scottish trials

Benchmark’s CleanTreat sea lice treatment technology is to be deployed in Scotland for the first time, on a trial basis.

The trials, in a project supported by the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture and the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), will take place at a farm operated by Mowi.

The CleanTreat water purification system is designed to remove all traces of pesticide after fish have been treated for sea lice, and it also removes organic material from the treatment water, including sea lice and sea lice egg strings.

In Norway, CleanTreat has been rolled out in conjunction with Benchmark’s lice treatment Ectosan, based on the controversial pesticide imidacloprid, which has not been approved for use in the UK. The CleanTreat trials in Scotland will involve Salmosan Vet, a leading treatment for sea lice that has been approved for use in Scotland since the early 1990s.

CleanTreat will be tested at a Mowi fish farm in Scotland over the next month, in a trial supported by the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture and the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

By using the purification system, it is hoped that producers will be able to treat multiple pens within a shorter time frame and, therefore, a greater number of fish can receive the medicine, preventing the spread of infection and enhancing site-wide sea lice control.

Traditionally, salmon have been treated with Salmosan Vet within a closed tarpaulin placed inside a net pen. It is intended that salmon will instead be guided into a bespoke vessel for treatment, with the fish returned to the net pen and the water transferred to the CleanTreat system. The medicine is then removed, along with any organic matter caught in the filtration process, and the purified water is released into the sea.

Mark Todman, head of business development at Benchmark, said: “At Benchmark, we are excited to be collaborating with SAIC, the University of Stirling and Mowi on this pilot trial. CleanTreat could enable the use of efficacious and high welfare medicines like Salmosan Vet in the most environmentally responsible manner possible, providing the best outcomes for both farmers and their fish. We are always looking for ways to support the farmers to be able to use all the tools in the toolbox as efficiently as they can and supporting the sustainable growth of the Scottish salmon industry.”

Dougie Hunter, technical director and managing director for ocean matters at Mowi, said that he hoped CleanTreat “could help alleviate some of the current limitations of Salmosan Vet.”

Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, added: “The potential introduction of CleanTreat could be a significant improvement on how the aquaculture sector uses medicines, but it is important to note that it is an enhancement of an already closely controlled and tightly regulated process.

“Alongside cleaner fish and other approaches, medicines are a crucial part of the toolbox necessary for managing the perennial issue of sea lice. This project is another great example of how businesses and universities can work together to make a big difference to fish health.”

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