Cleaner fish trials in Canada

A PROJECT to evaluate the control of sea lice in salmon farms has just been announced in Newfoundland, Canada, the St Johns Telegram reported.
Researchers will use a $358,000 investment from the provincial government to support the growth of the industry in the Coast of Bays.
Through the research project, alternative methods for sea lice removal at sites using cleaner fish, specifically conners and lumpfish, which are native to the province’s coastal waters will be evaluated.
The total project value is $991,000, which includes a $258,000 contribution from the Research and Development Corporation and $100,000 from the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
‘Research and development is a key building block of the aquaculture sector,’ said Darin King, minister responsible for the research and development corporation.
‘Building on the strong collaborative relationships among academic researchers, business and government, this project will enhance capacity in our province and help salmon farmers overcome the fish health challenges posed by sea lice, one of salmon’s natural parasites.’
The project involves industry collaboration with Cold Ocean Salmon, a subsidiary of Cooke Aquaculture. which operates a salmon aquaculture facility in St Alban’s, where research will take place.
Vaughn Granter, Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister of fisheries and aquaculture, said: ‘This innovative project is expected to reduce costs for the local salmon aquaculture industry while allowing it to maintain healthy fish stocks, offer more environmentally friendly chemical-free treatments for sea lice, and enhance its competitiveness in the seafood market.’
The project represents an ongoing cleaner fish initiative that was spearheaded at the Ocean Sciences Centre with industry partner, Cold Ocean Salmon.
Danny Boyce, of the department of ocean sciences, Memorial University, said: ‘This research will allow us to increase our knowledge and production of cleaner fish and make significant advances towards these species becoming an important tool to use towards sea lice control in our salmon farms in the region.’
Other funding sources include the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI).
‘Aquaculture is the most rapidly expanding food production system in the world, producing about half of the seafood for human consumption,’ said Robert Verge, managing director of CCFI.
‘Its expansion has been enabled by substantial investment in research and development. This is another example of the way in which research and development is contributing value to the economy, both globally and locally.’
In 2015, the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association identified sea lice control as a top research and development priority for the provincial finfish aquaculture sector.
The research and development involves a large-scale field trial using cultured cleaner fish in a sea cage validation trial to test the effective removal of sea lice from farmed salmon.
The feeding behaviour of the cleaner fish is harnessed to create a natural defense for the farm.
The project will deliver innovative methods and technology needed to produce cleaner fish and will be tested in a real-world environment, according to the press release.
‘Fish health and welfare is a top priority for us at Cold Ocean Salmon,’ said  Sheldon George, the company’s Newfoundland and Labrador production manager.
‘As farmers we want to take an integrated pest management approach to minimising the impact of parasites like sea lice on our animals.
‘Our in-house science and our farming teams are extremely pleased to be working with world-class experts at the Ocean Science Centre to solve real world farming challenges.’