MECHANICAL methods of removing sea lice from salmon are an effective means of managing lice levels on farms, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation said.
Responding to calls from anti-salmon farm campaigners to ban thermolicers and hydrolicers, the SSPO’s chief executive, Julie Hesketh-Laird, said: ‘Fish health and welfare is, and always will be, at the heart of Scottish salmon farming.
‘Investment in new technologies like thermolicers and hydrolicers has been an effective step to manage naturally occurring sea lice on farms.
‘These technologies are important tools in the salmon farming industry’s toolkit of options for managing sea lice levels as close to background levels as possible.’
Campaigners said more than 100,000 salmon died from thermolicer and hydrolicer treatments in the six months to January this year, based on figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Scottish government.
Hesketh-Laird said: ‘As with all new technologies, there has been a bedding in period and some regrettable salmon mortality events that have been notified to the Scottish government’s Fish Health Inspectorate.
‘Farming companies are learning from their experience of using these new methods of lice control to improve their operation, resulting in improved management of fish health.
‘The recently published statistics for sea lice on salmon farms show the lowest levels since July 2013, a positive position which the sector is working hard to maintain and improve on.’
Picture: Thermolicer at work (Steinsvik)