THE Clean Treat system, developed by Benchmark to improve the environmental footprint of sea lice treatments, has been hailed by senior fish vets as a possible ‘game changer’.
John Marshall of Benchmark told the Fish Veterinary Society’s annual conference, held near Edinburgh this week, that the technology was the result of 10 years’ work and had now been deployed aboard two vessels, both operating in Norway.
The system removes all trace of chemicals from bath treatment water, and can be installed on well boats or on purpose built or specially adapted barges.
Launched last year, Clean Treat is a three-step process: the treatment water containing medicines goes through a pre-filter to remove organic matter and detritus. It then passes through primary, secondary and tertiary purification stages, with the medicine level checked at each step.
Then, in an onboard lab, a chemist samples and releases the water when there is no detectable level of medicines present.
The chemical residues removed from treatment water are solidified and then disposed of in one of the world’s three specialised incinerators designed for such waste.
The second vessel fitted with Clean Treat left for Norway on Tuesday, said Marshall, and is due to go into action at the end of March.
Stationed in a fjord, it can purify 1,200 m3 an hour, increasing the capacity of the previous Clean Treat boat, and will have a rota of chemists working in its detection lab as it undergoes tests.
Benchmark is still collaborating with industry partners to further optimise the system, and the commercial scale field trials in Norway will test new products.
Clean Treat is suitable for most currently available bath treatments for sea lice, and it has the potential to work on compounds not previously used in aquaculture.
Asked whether farmers’ practice of reducing sea lice medicines, because of their possible effect on the environment, would now be reviewed in light of Clean Treat’s cleansing abilities, Marshall said: ‘It does open the door to medicines we haven’t even considered before…this is making a real impact on the industry.’
As well as engaging in conversations over changing the types of medicines farmers could use, Benchmark has also been in talks with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.
At least two new products could be brought to the market as a result of Clean Treat, said Marshall, who added that its benefits could also apply to AGD treatments.
Ronnie Soutar, president of the FVS and recently appointed head of veterinary services at Scottish Sea Farms, said the technology ‘seems to be a game changer’.
Marshall said the vessel en route to Norway is an adapted oil sector boat, fitted out to accommodate the Clean Treat systems, and with plenty of accommodation to house the teams of scientists involved in the trials.
Clean Treat would ideally be delivered as a service rather than sold to individual farmers, he said.
Picture: The new boat fitted with Clean Treat is on its way to Norway (credit the Fish Site)