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Leroy ramps up investments in fight against salmon lice

The Oslo-listed group is now able to treat 80% of its biomass in one week.

Norwegian Atlantic salmon producer Leroy Seafood has been investing heavily into the fight against salmon lice -- and it's learning from the past year.

"The experience of the past year means that we are now investing significantly more in the fight against lice," said Sjur Malm, CFO at the group, during the quarterly result presentation last week.

As a consequence, the company also plans to harvest less in the second quarter of the year.

"As we reported, biomass at the beginning of 2017 was at the same level as in 2016," Malm told IntraFish.

"As we communicated in the fourth quarter of 2016, we will harvest a high volume in the first quarter of 2017, which is why the biomass at the end of the first quarter is 7 percent lower than at the same time last year.

"In addition, as previously communicated, we have planned for a lower harvest volume in the second quarter, and during this period we are now building up biomass as planned. The production these days is good."

The sea lice issue has been a headache for Leroy management, especially in Leroy Midt. The group has now put together a number of measures to ensure challenges can be tackled easier this year.

"We have increased our capacity in all areas," Malm said. "We have more access to cleaner fish, and more access to processing capacity."

The group has "learned a lot" over the past year, he added.

"We're extremely focused and have clear action plans. If necessary, we have the capacity to treat 80 percent of standing biomass in one week," Malm said.

"We have planned very well, and would be incredibly surprised if we did not solve this better than last year. But what remains is the implementation and here comes the final proof."

Malm did not give any guarantees as to how the rest of 2017 will pan out. But he emphasized the group has put great effort into ensuring it will get a better result this year.

"We are at the beginning now, and it looks like we, and the rest of the Norwegian industry, will solve this better than last year," he said.

"So far it is positive, but the final test will be late summer and early fall. We and the industry have taken a big boost and appear to be far better prepared, but we cannot give any absolute guarantees, and that's the biology we're dealing with."

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