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Scottish researchers trial ultrasound to delouse salmon

Six-month project brings together research partners from across the country.

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) launched an initiative to explore the potential of a novel approach to ultrasound to delouse farmed salmon and, ultimately, increase harvest volumes.

It is the first of its Rapid Response projects, and the six-month project brings together industry partner Pulcea with academic partners from the University of Dundee and the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling to research the efficacy of ultrasound in targeting and dislodging naturally occurring sea lice in a non-invasive and non-harmful way.

Heather  
“This innovative new project is precisely the kind of initiative that our Rapid Response scheme was set up to support," said Heather Jones (pictured left), CEO of SAIC.

"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 (€51,294/$57,508) 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.

“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," said Paul Campbell, reader of Physics at University of Dundee.

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, SAIC said.

“As sea lice continue to evolve, so too must the industry’s response if we’re to maximize fish welfare, minimize loss and increase the volume of farmed salmon," said Ian Armstrong, managing director of Pulcea.

"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.”

Maximizing 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. These, in turn, could help to unlock the industry’s growth potential and deliver real economic benefit to Scottish aquaculture and beyond," Armstrong said.

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