Aquaculture is the most rapidly expanding food production system in the world. It produces about half of the seafood we eat worldwide, and locally, provincial aquaculture generates 100+ million in economic activity every year. But one issue has salmon farmers scratching their heads: how to deal with sea lice?
“Sea lice” aren’t lice; they’re the larvae of things like jellyfish, and they stick themselves to fish like parasites, feeding on their skin, mucus, and blood. In conjunction with Memorial University, the province has been exploring the use of “cleaner fish” to eat the sea lice right off of salmon, without damaging salmon stocks.
Studies out of Scotland and Sweden have indicated that lumpfish and cunners (also a fish) will gladly “clean” sea lice off the bodies of salmon, and as of 2015, we’re ready to give it a whirl in a real-world environment. The industry collaborator is Cold Ocean Salmon Inc., which operates a salmon aquaculture facility in St. Albarn’s.
“Our in-house science and our farming teams are extremely pleased to be working with world-class experts at the Ocean Science Centre to solve real world farming challenges,” says Sheldon George of Cold Ocean Salmon.
Another perk of using cleaner fish is that it’s an all-natural, chemical free, and environmentally friendly solution to a problem. Sometimes the natural solution is the … natural solution.