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Funding for sea lice technology

FUNDING from the European Union worth £1.76 million has been put towards new technologies which aim to control sea lice in the Scottish salmon industry.

The money, which has been secured through the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), will go towards trialling new methods to reduce numbers of the naturally occurring parasitic lice.

A total of 11 companies will be involved in the projects, including Scottish Sea Farms, Cooke Aquaculture, Grieg and Johnson Marine.

The funding has been coordinated by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, which is based at Stirling University, in a bid to develop natural solutions for lice.

It is part of a wider £2.5 million European funding injection which aims to promote sustainable growth and investment in Scottish aquaculture.

Earlier this year Scottish Sea Farms put over £4 million towards trialling a chemical-free thermolicer in Shetland, which places salmon in warm water at a temperature that kills the lice but does not harm the fish.

Also due to benefit from the new £1.7 million funding is hydrolicer technology, which uses low pressure water jets to dislodge lice.

It is said that sea lice costs the global farmed fish industry around $1 billion a year by killing off stock.

Jim Gallagher, managing director of Scottish Sea Farms, said the issue of lice is an “urgent” one.

“However, significant capital investment is required to trial new solutions. The EMFF award is contributing additional resources to those invested by industry, enabling Scottish trials on a commercial scale,” he added.

“The new equipment will be accessible by many companies in Scotland’s salmon sector, supporting the industry’s common purpose in accelerating the widespread adoption of effective sea lice controls.”