Sea lice infestation is one of the costliest challenges facing the global salmon farming industry.

Estimates of yearly losses caused to global salmon farmers run as high as $1 billion (€880 million) by some calculations. Losses to the Chilean salmon farming industry alone are estimated at $350 million, and in Norway costs associated with combating sea lice were projected to be NOK 4.5 billion ($525 million/€464 million), according to a 2016 report from Norwegian research firm Nofima.

There is, however, lots of good news lurking behind these unsettling numbers. Salmon farming companies, national governments and research institutes around the world are pouring millions of dollars into developing a tool kit of strategies salmon farmers can use to reduce the impact of sea lice infestations on the world's farmed-salmon crop.

Despite the presence of sea lice, Atlantic salmon flourished in the wild down through the centuries, largely unaffected by lice. But as salmon farming – which restricts significant numbers of fish to a confined pen in the water – began to expand and flourish in ‘80s and ‘90s, so, too, did sea lice infestations.

For a while, there seemed a sure remedy for the problem, through the use of in-feed emamectin benzoate, known commercially as SLICE.

But by 2008 it became clear that sea lice treatments such as Slice no longer had their previous effectiveness. Treatments that had previously seen efficacy rates as high as 95 percent suddenly dropped to 70 percent.

This led the industry to investigate whether treatment products were defective, or whether the parasites were starting to become resistant to common treatment methods. Bio assay methods developed in the early 2000s were used by researchers who, indeed, proved declining efficacy rates of treatments were due to resistance.

With the industry's most effective tool against sea lice now becoming less effective, a storm of R&D was unleashed, all focused on solutions for controlling --or even eradicating -- the sea lice scourge.

The new IntraFish Sea Lice Report provides a comprehensive analysis and understanding of the sea lice problem, from its beginnings to today.

The report details the impact of sea lice on the bottom line of salmon farming companies and their reputations. It also details what countries and leading salmon farming companies are doing right now to address the issue, and looks at current strategies, research and innovations taking place in the sector.

The 75-page report report provides comprehensive information on:

  • The history of sea lice vs. salmon
  • How sea lice impact fish health
  • Public perception impact on salmon farming’s reputation.
  • The sea lice challenge – A country-by-country breakdown of the issue
  • Treatments
  • Innovations in tackling sea lice
  • What the latest research on sea lice tells us
  • Outlook: The next 5 -10 years
  • Treatment strategies – A company-by-company breakdown
Farmed salmon is one of the most popular seafoods in the world. But for the industry to continue to grow and supply increasing global demand it will need to solve the sea lice challenge.