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Developing a non-chemical means to effectively remove all forms of sea lice from aquaculture salmon using warm water



Sea louse
Photo: S. Robinson (DFO)

The sea louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) is a globally acknowledged challenge for salmon farming operations and a considerable amount of resources are being expended to manage this pest. Chemo-therapeutants and animal husbandry practices have been traditionally used to keep these parasites under control, but there are now signs that sea lice may be becoming resistant to many of the chemicals that are being used and recent studies have shown that some of these chemicals are lethal to non-target organisms. Consequently, many non-chemical alternative treatments for sea lice controls are being tested such as predators (cleanerfish), traps (either physical or biological) and physical exclusion devices (nets, electrical fields). One of the more promising techniques being developed to remove sea lice from captive salmon is the use of warm water. Recent Canadian innovations have developed a warm water shower which appears to remove all attached stages of sea lice and also prevents the detached sea lice individuals from being returned to the ocean. This project aims to develop protocols for the best application of the warm water shower technique to safely and effectively remove sea lice from Atlantic Salmon, including an understanding of the mechanism involved in sea lice removal using warm water. Results of the project are expected to provide the required information for ongoing modification of the commercial sea lice warm water shower device, as well as inform sea lice management strategies.

This project supports the optimal fish health management objective of the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), and pertains to the 2014-15 national ACRDP priority to manage and control pests and pathogens through the understanding of how pests and pathogens can affect the environment and cultured species, and how to manage their impact.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2014 - 2016



Principal Investigator(s)

Shawn Robinson

Collaborative Partner(s)

Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd.


Video : Aquaculture Research: Alternative Control Methods for Managing Sea Lice

Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture

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