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Potential of using cunners to control sea lice infestation of Atlantic Salmon in Newfoundland



In most salmon farming countries, prolonged use of chemical therapeutants (e.g., SLICE®) to control sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) infestation has led to the emergence of resistance in some local sea lice populations. The use of cleaner fish (e.g. Wrasse species) to remove sea lice from Atlantic salmon in cages has been developed and utilized in Europe with some success and has been considered in Canada (NB) (i.e., through the use of the wrasse-like (cunner). However, many questions still remain unanswered regarding the success of this alternative method of sea lice control in this country and in particular in Newfoundland (Cunner stock differences in effectiveness; species fitness; geographical differences in seasonal effectiveness in active cleaning, among others). It is the goal of this project to use local Newfoundland populations of cunners as potential cleaner fish and compare these results with those in NB. Cunner feeding behaviour on sea lice will be examined by comparing stocks as well as sexes and sizes. Subsequently, tank investigations will be conducted to test Cunners' feeding success and efficiency on sea lice by stocking Cunners with infected salmon smolts. Effect of Cunners' presence on salmon's physiology will be assessed by studying feeding and potential stress responses of farmed fish. This project will bring relevant information on the potential application of cunners to control sea lice in salmon cages in Newfoundland.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2011 - 2011


Atlantic: Newfoundland, Labrador Shelves

Principal Investigator(s)

Dounia Hamoutene

Harry Murray

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