As part of the Channel 4 food and science series, Food Unwrapped, an aquaculture expert from the University of Stirling has shown how nature has a solution to a major salmon production problem.
Dr Andrew Davie of the world-leading Institute of Aquaculture gave presenter Jimmy Doherty a tour around a commercial marine hatchery at Otter Ferry on Loch Fyne, where scientists are working with industry to sustainably farm cleaner fish that will help reduce sea lice among salmon.
The experts advise the use of two species of fish – the ballan wrasse and the lumpsucker – to monitor the salmon and remove sea lice, boosting salmon production.
This natural technique is being offered as an alternative to other methods, such as flushing the fish through warm water to dislodge the lice or using medicinal treatments.
Dr Andrew Davie said: “We’re going back to nature to offer a solution to the sea lice problem in salmon farming. These native species of wrasse and lumpsucker clean fish parasites in the wild so we’re taking advantage of this innate behaviour to clean lice from salmon.
“The wrasse works better in milder climates, while the lumpsucker performs best in colder temperatures so together they represent an effective year-round solution for this international industry.
“Sustainability is key to this work: our research aims to assure a reliable supply of healthy farmed cleaner fish to meet the salmon industries demands. It is through assuring this supply that the salmon industry will have the confidence to expand its production and it’s great we have been able to share our findings with the Food Unwrapped audience.”
The multi-million pound cleaner-fish projects co-funded by Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, brings researchers together with commercial sector partners including Marine Harvest (Scotland), Scottish Sea Farms, Scottish Salmon Company, Otterferry Seafish Ltd, BioMar and Pharmaq.
You can watch the episode of Food Unwrapped online.