Aquaculture biotechnology business Benchmark could be deploying its new lice solution CleanTreat within weeks, after the Norwegian Medicines Agency granted Marketing Authorisation for its use.
The CleanTreat system, used in conjunction with Benchmark’s new lice-killing formula Ectosan Vet, could be a game-changer in the fish farmers’ battle against sea lice – but it is also proving controversial. Ectosan (also known as BMK08) is based on the pesticide imidacloprid, which has been described as “novichok for insects” and last month was condemned by members of the European Parliament.
In the CleanTreat system, fish are treated for lice in a closed environment and the water is filtered to remove any traces of the pesticide before discharging the waste water into the sea.
The decision by the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NoMA) to grant authorisation was based on a thorough environmental risk assessment. The next steps will be the ratification of the MRL (Maximum Residue Limit) into Norwegian regulation – a procedure which follows on from the European Union’s previous ratification of the MRL – and the approval of product labels by NoMA.
After this, which Benchmark anticipates will take just a few weeks, the new treatment will be deployed for use in two vessels.
Benchmark CEO Trond Williksen said that gaining Marketing Authorisation was a “major milestone” and added: “It is testament to the team of scientists at Benchmark that we are able to bring the first new sea lice veterinary medicinal treatment to the Norwegian salmon market in over a decade.
“We are excited to bring this much needed solution to the salmon industry, driving sustainability through improved animal welfare and yield while protecting the environment.
“We look forward to working with our customers as we roll-out Ectosan Vet and CleanTreat in the market.”
Last month the European Parliament voted in favour of a motion that objected to the European Commission’s ratification of an MRL for Ectosan. That ratification, which had been supported by the European Medicines Agency Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products, had been confirmed by the Commission’s Standing Committee on Veterinary Medicinal Products and adopted by the European Commission on 15 April 2021.
If the European Commission bows to the MEPs’ wishes and reviews the MRL, that could make it difficult to export fish treated with Ectosan/BMK08 to the EU. Benchmark, however, said: “The Company has full confidence in the European Medicines Agency and European Commission’s scientific and regulatory process.”