The Salmon Farming Industry: Forward Thinking Strategies for Sea Lice Control

The problems and issues of sea lice infection in farmed salmon are a major and topical concern for the whole industry. A special issue of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) journal, Pest Management Science to be published in May 2002 reports on the prospect of developing an integrated pest management programme for sea lice control.

Presenting an up-to-date comprehensive view of the sea lice problem the twelve papers in this special issue provide overviews on veterinary medicines, biological control, vaccine development, semiochemical strategies, epidemiology and selective breeding for resistance.

The Scottish farmed Atlantic salmon industry is economically the single most important industry in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Sea lice are natural marine ectoparasites of salmon that feed on the skin and can cause welfare problems if not controlled. In severe cases of sea louse infection, mortalities can occur and surviving fish have a low market value.

Based on a conference held in Aberdeen by SCI`s Scotland Section and Pest Management Group, the journal special issue invited contributors to overview both the latest scientific findings and the practical issues to provide a framework for implementing an integrated control strategy. Drawing upon successful experiences in the integrated control of terrestrial pests, the papers are intended to facilitate discussion and debate on how new strategies for sea louse control could be devised within the context of current regulatory frameworks.

According to the guest editors of the special issue, Dr Jenny Mordue and Dr Alan Pike, “this seminal piece of work contains the most up to date research and views on the impact of sea lice problems. Dialogue between all parties is beginning to create practical solutions and this conference is a major step towards achieving a sustainable integrated approach to sea louse control.”

Salmon farmers share the environment with other users and a Tripartite Working Group has been formed between Government, salmon farmers and wild fisheries interests to discuss ways to overcome problems of maintaining the health of wild and farmed fish. This special issue describes some of the practical solutions suggested to create a sustainable management structure.

The final discussion highlighted two areas where significant progress must be achieved for the implementation of integrated strategies in Scotland. The first relates to the regulatory framework for the use of medicines in sea louse control to minimise the risk of sea lice developing resistance. The second is the need for adequate funding for research programmes.

Bringing together both the scientific facts and the historical context the papers provide a basis upon which future discussion and debate will take place leading to the implementation of integrated strategies for sea louse control.

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