Saturday, July 2, 2022
BusinessProject shows clear benefits of water purification system for fish health

Project shows clear benefits of water purification system for fish health

FOR the first time in Scotland an innovative water purification system will be trailed alongside medicine used to treat sea lice on salmon which could boost fish health.

CleanTreat, a first of its kind water purification system developed by aquaculture biotechnology company Benchmark, will be tested at Mowi fish farm in Scotland over the next month.

Scotland’s salmon industry is worth over £2bn to the economy according to a report commissioned by the Scottish Salmon Farmers Organisation.

Managing sea lice costs the industry approximately £40m annually and is considered the greatest biological challenge to the aquaculture sector.

Mark Todman Benchmark
Mark Todman, head of business development at Benchmark.

Introducing CleanTreat could allow fish farmers to respond more quickly to sea lice challenges, be more precise and effective with treatment and improve the process of treating fish for farmers.

The Mowi fish farm trial will be supported by the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture and the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

The consortium will test the efficacy of CleanTreat in removing Salmosan Vet in a range of conditions, aiming to determine how and what quantities it can be filtered from treatment water.

Salmosan Vet is a leading treatment for sea lice and has been approved for use in Scotland since the early 1990s.

By using the purification system it is hoped that producers will be able to treat multiple pens within a shorter time frame and therefore a greater number of fish can receive the medicine.

CleanTreat also has the added benefit of removing organic material from the treatment water including sea lice and sea lice egg strings to help prevent the development of resistance against the medicine.

Traditionally, Salmon have been treated with Salmosan Vet within a closed tarpaulin placed inside a net pen.

It is intended that salmon will instead be guided into a bespoke vessel for treatment, with the fish then returned to the net pen and the water transferred to the CleanTreat system.

The medicine is then removed, along with any organic matter caught in the filtration process, and the purified water is released into the sea.

Mark Todman, head of business development at Benchmark, said: “CleanTreat could enable the use of efficacious and high welfare medicines like Salmosan Vet in the most environmentally responsible manner possible, providing the best outcomes for both farmers and their fish.

“We are always looking for ways to support the farmers to be able to use all the tools in the toolbox as efficiently as they can and supporting the sustainable growth of the Scottish salmon industry.”

Dougie Hunter, technical director and managing director for ocean matters at Mowi, commented: “As a salmon producer, the health and wellbeing of our fish is of paramount importance.

“We take a number of different approaches to supporting their welfare, including the use of medicines.

“However, we are always conscious of any potential environmental impact and the introduction of CleanTreat could help alleviate some of the current limitations of Salmosan Vet.

“This could be a significant boost to fish health and welfare across our sites.”

Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, added: “The potential introduction of CleanTreat could be a significant improvement on how the aquaculture sector uses medicines, but it is important to note that it is an enhancement of an already closely controlled and tightly regulated process.

“Alongside cleaner fish and other approaches, medicines are a crucial part of the toolbox necessary for managing the perennial issue of sea lice.

“This project is another great example of how businesses and universities can work together to make a big difference to fish health.”

The Scottish salmon industry contributes £50m in corporation tax and £76m in wages, with the average wage for the 2,300 workers in the sector being £34,000 per annum.

According to the report commissioned by the Scottish Salmon Farmers Organisation for every £100 of income within aquaculture, a further £163 of income is sustained in the rest of Scotland’s economy through supply chain effects and employee spending.

Meanwhile, the total tax revenues generated were £216m.

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