Shetland institute explores "eco-friendly" sea lice approach –

Shetland institute explores “eco-friendly” sea lice approach Published:  04 July, 2007

Ballan wrasse eat sea lice

A NORWEGIAN wrasse (cleaner fish) breeding specialist is visiting the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway, Shetland this week as part of a project to find a “sustainable, eco-friendly” solution to sea lice.

Johan Solgard of Villa will share information that the NAFC Marine Centre says will be invaluable to its wrasse breeding project.

Led by NAFC Marine Centre aquaculture development officer, Kenny Gifford, the project is investigating the potential for breeding wrasse in Shetland. It focuses in particular on ballan wrasse, a hardy outgoing fish that has proven to successfully eat sea lice and therefore naturally clean salmon. The species is also very efficient at eating organic matter from the sides of cages and cleaning nets.

Commenting on the project, Kenny Gifford said: “Some work has already been carried out in this area in Norway and Scotland. Research has shown the Ballan wrasse is a robust fish and particularly good at cleaning salmon.

“There are some Ballan wrasse in the waters around Shetland but not in the quantities that would be required for commercial use. To avoid over-fishing the limited numbers of wrasse around our shores we have initiated a breeding project.

The programme is in its early stages but, once enough ballan Wrasse have been acquired to take it forward, the researchers will be trying to breed from these at the marine hatchery.

“I believe that this is a worthwhile initiative for the industry, a sensible and considered way forward in discovering how to breed a fish which will be an asset to Shetland fish farmers. The project certainly has much potential and is something that, having been involved in the salmon farming industry for many years, is of considerable interest to me. I fully appreciate the problems that sea lice can cause and am delighted to be in the position of seeking a sustainable, eco-friendly solution.”

Johan Solgard added: “I’m delighted to have been invited to Shetland to investigate the opportunity of using wrasse as a biological delouser as we do in Norway. We have been researching how to optimise the use of cleanerfish for many years and have become very experienced in this field.

“We’ve been out fishing today in Shetland and have caught a small number of wrasse that I hope will allow the marine hatchery to take forward their breeding programme.

“Using wrasse is certainly the most sustainable way of dealing with sea lice and we believe this biological treatment is the way forward.” is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.