ADVANCES in the farming of cleaner fish were highlighted at a special workshop in Inverness last week hosted by the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation.
Cleaner fish are delivering exciting opportunities for Scottish salmon farmers, and are part of the industry’s multi-million pound initiative to confront sea lice outbreaks.
Salmon farmers are already seeing a year on year increase in the number of farmed cleaner fish used at seawater farm sites across Scotland, and the industry is driving production and expansion of breeding facilities across the UK.
The Inverness conference included presentations from a number of Scottish salmon farmers who shared findings on industry specific projects and collaborative activities, encouraging discussions about the practical application and opportunities arising from the use of cleaner fish at seawater farms.
With an attendance of almost 100, which included representatives from all Scottish salmon farms, academics from across the UK took part along with representatives of Marine Scotland Science, the RSPCA and other sectors and organisations associated with salmon farming.
The workshop was opened by John Rea of Scottish Sea Farms who provided a Scottish perspective.
This was followed by an overview of cleaner fish hatchery production in the UK and an opportunity to hear practical information and advice about the latest breeding and husbandry techniques.
Farmers then shared their experience of deploying cleaner fish in seawater pens and sessions on health and nutrition.
SSPO technical executive Jamie Smith said: ‘The event has been set up to encourage information sharing across the industry, through supporting best practice and discussing potential future research ideas.’
Olav Breck from Marine Harvest Norway presented a Norwegian perspective and concluded that a multi-national approach to research and innovation holds the key to success in aquaculture.
SSPO data and research Manager, Iain Berrill said: ‘Bringing the extended salmon farming community together generated interesting discussion points and helped to highlight potential opportunities and challenges.
‘It was helpful to identify some of the bottlenecks in the production of farmed cleanerfish and look at how we might resolve them.’
Herve Migaud from the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling showcased the wealth of research and development projects taking place in Scotland and what is planned for the coming years.
Closing the workshop, the SPPO’s Professor Phil Thomas said: ‘This was a genuinely excellent meeting which served to demonstrate the massive progress that has been made in this field over the past five years.
‘The grouped sessions on production, nutrition, health and research and development were leading-edge, and all portrayed a focused preoccupation with the most rapid routes to develop and apply the technology.
‘Early results of that application in the field are very impressive. While there is a lot still to learn about the different, critical features of wrasse and lumpsucker technology – and they are not the same – the rate of progress gives great optimism for the widespread introduction of biological control technologies for sea lice throughout the industry.’