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Assessing sensitivity to emamectin benzoate (SLICE®) in sea lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis from farmed Atlantic Salmon in British Columbia



Infestation with sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) is a significant economic burden to commercial salmon aquaculture. While there are a range of sea lice control strategies, in-feed emamectin benzoate (known commercially as SLICE®) is the treatment of choice for sea lice on farmed Atlantic Salmon because of its high efficacy and ease of application. However, recent treatment failures have been linked to resistance to SLICE® within sea lice populations. While in vitro (cell culture) data support the conclusion that sea lice in British Columbia remain sensitive to SLICE®, treatment efficacy is variable among sites. Sublethal effects of SLICE® are poorly documented and if this treatment is to remain an effective management strategy it is important to determine its effects on treatment survivors and on sea lice prior to mortality. This project will attempt to forward that knowledge by:

  1. assessing the hatch rate, developmental rate and viability of cultured larval sea lice (L. salmonis);
  2. generating first generation (F1 generation) sea lice to permit comparative assessments of SLICE® sensitivity with parental sea lice; and
  3. performing biological assessments to determine the SLICE® sensitivity of parental and F1 generation sea lice, pre- and post-treatment, from each of three salmon production sites.

As this research is the first effort to document sub-lethal effects of this commonly used sea lice treatment, the results of this project will contribute to both increased knowledge and improved disease management strategies to help minimize the impacts of pathogens on farmed salmon.

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

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2014 - 2015


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Simon Jones

Collaborative Partner(s)

Marine Harvest Canada Inc.

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