THE potential of using ultrasound to delouse farmed salmon is being explored in a new research project with the hope, ultimately, of increasing harvest volumes.
The six-month initiative is SAIC’s (the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre) first ‘rapid response’ project.
It brings together industry partner Pulcea with the University of Dundee and the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling.
The research will investigate the efficacy of ultrasound in targeting and dislodging naturally occurring sea lice in a non-invasive and non-harmful way.
Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, said: ‘This innovative new project is precisely the kind of initiative that our Rapid Response scheme was set up to support.
‘It is small-scale at this stage but, if successful, could have a significant positive impact on the aquaculture industry, not just in Scotland but around the world.’
Awarded grant funding of £39,467 by SAIC, the project seeks to quickly determine the ability of ultrasound to delouse salmon in a way that neither harms the host fish nor the environment.
Dr Paul Campbell, reader of physics at Dundee, said: ‘We’re taking a technique that’s proven successful in human medicine and we’re carefully re-engineering it to explore its effectiveness in advancing fish health.’
If the preliminary results are positive, the industry-academia partnership intends to upscale the ultrasound based treatment to a comprehensive marine engineering solution with global reach.
Ian Armstrong, managing director of Pulcea, said: ‘As sea lice continue to evolve, so too must the industry’s response if we’re to maximise fish welfare, minimise loss and increase the volume of farmed salmon.
‘This project could be another important step towards that, potentially delivering a commercially viable new sea lice treatment that complements the range of controls already available.’
Maximising harvest volumes is just one of the anticipated outcomes of the project.
‘As we progress further into our research, we hope to make a number of other discoveries that will benefit fish health and welfare,’ said Armstrong.
‘These, in turn, could help to unlock the industry’s growth potential and deliver real economic benefit to Scottish aquaculture and beyond.’