Ballan Wrasse

Farmed wrasse as a “green” sustainable sea lice control solution for Scottish farmed salmon.

7 October 2011

Leading Scottish salmon producers and scientists have been awarded co-funding of £2.1m from the Technology Strategy Board to develop the technologies to breed and grow commercially viable numbers of wrasse in tanks and deploy these successfully and sustainably in Atlantic salmon farms across Scotland. Wrasse are cleaner fish that naturally predate ectoparasites like sealice and remove them from the skin of other fish. Sea lice present a major challenge to the Scottish salmon industry, costing an estimated £30 million each year. They can hamper growth and leave farmed salmon vulnerable to diseases. The industry is licensed to use a number of sea lice medicines but wrasse will provide an additional tool to combat sealice and reduce the use of medicines. This project will address a series of key research priorities that currently limit wrasse production including broodstock origin and conditioning, gender control, spawning, larvae and juvenile performances, disease control and deployment strategies.

The 4 year project is led by Marine Harvest Scotland Ltd. in collaboration with Scottish Sea Farms Ltd, partnered with the Reproduction & Genetics group of the Institute of Aquaculture who will bring their expertise in marine finfish broodstock management, population genetics and fish husbandry to the project as well as their marine facilities at Machrihanish. The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) has agreed to disseminate the practical findings of the project as it progresses to the wider Scottish salmon farming industry.