R-12-13 The role of wild and farmed fish in modulating the infectious pressure of the sea louse

Ian Bricknell
Aquaculture Research Institute
University of Maine

Parasitic copepods known as sea lice are the major cause of financial loss to the Atlantic salmon aquaculture industry. Salmon farmers in the USA have worked with resource agencies for over a decade to implement integrated pest management plans that include routine monitoring of farmed fish, chemical and non-chemical treatments, hydrogen peroxide, and coordinated stocking of defined bay management areas with a three-year production cycle to permit a fallowing period between crops. The overall aim of this proposal is to establish and model where and when sea lice, whether shed from wild or farmed fish, infect migrating or farmed salmon in a nearshore ecosystem; and identify potential wild reservoirs of sea lice. The results will provide information on the infectious pressure of sea lice in the coastal zone, the role of wild fish as hosts for sea lice, and lice infection dynamics over a production cycle, in order to evaluate and refine the success of the industry’s collaborative management efforts; and provide a scientific framework to inform marine resource managers and users of the actual sea lice risk of salmon farms to wild fish populations, if any, and vice versa.

Two-year project 2012-2014
National Sea Grant National Strategic Initiative funds $461,438