SCOTLAND’S first Thermolicer has proved highly effective in removing sea lice, achieving 95 per cent clearance, reports a leading salmon farmer.
Scottish Sea Farms has treated more than six million fish since acquiring the £4 million Norwegian made technology earlier this year.
The company spent months researching and training staff in Norway to use the system and is now cooperating with other fish farmers, sharing the use and knowledge of best practice and reducing the requirement for medicinal treatments in Scotland.
The Thermolicer has been used across the industry by salmon farmers including Cooke Aquaculture and Grieg Seafood. Marine Harvest Scotland also has one of the machines, made by Steinsvik.
Dr Ralph Bickerdike, SSF head of fish health, said: ‘This has been a real breakthrough in the fight against sea lice – having access to a new tool, which works in a completely different way to our other control measures, is a major achievement for the Scottish Industry.
‘It complements the other innovative solutions we are employing, such as biological control.’
The Thermolicer is a machine that uses zero therapeutants in the treatment of sea lice. The lice have a low tolerance for changes in temperature and the new device uses this fact to use water temperatures to eradicate the parasite.
It is a simple and environmentally friendly method that goes beyond the traditional treatments.
Assessing the health status of fish prior to a Thermolicer treatment is an essential part of the decision making process for fish health and welfare. If there is an underlying health issue, due to previous environmental challenges, then other control measures are considered. This strict best practice ensures high standards of fish welfare.
The Thermolicer is being used as part of an integrated sea lice management strategy whereby prevention is the priority, together with cycling of different treatments when intervention is required in order to avoid resistance developing to a specific control measure.
The machine was bought with funding support from Marine Scotland and the the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), with partners Cooke and Grieg, as part of an ongoing initiative to deliver non-medicinal approaches to control sea lice.
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: ‘Aquaculture is one of our real economic success stories and I am committed to supporting its continued growth to 2020 and beyond within a thriving rural economy.
‘I want the sector to be ambitious but this further growth must continue to be sustainable and protect the pristine environment on which the sector depends.
‘The Scottish government has invested significantly to research and develop innovative, long-term, sustainable options for the control and management of sea lice on Scottish fish farms, both by establishing the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre and ensuring that EMFF funding is being used effectively to tackle this issue.
‘I am pleased to see the impact our support is having – innovation in this field is exactly what we want to encourage.’
Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, said: ‘It’s very encouraging to see significant investments delivering positive results that can benefit the wider salmon farming industry.’
Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, said: ‘SAIC are delighted to see this degree of innovation and use of new technologies in the Scottish industry. Our support leading the EMFF bid – generously awarded by the Scottish government – has helped Scottish Sea Farms to bring the Thermolicer to Scotland.
‘Its use here demonstrates an unprecedented level of collaboration across the industry. By continuously improving the use of this technology, making both the device and the know-how available to all companies in Scotland, the whole industry in Scotland can benefit.’