THE Scottish Salmon Company and Viking Fish Farms have successfully completed Scotland’s first sea transfer of commercially-grown ballan wrasse.
The project is the result of four years of research and development. The wrasse, proven to be effective cleaner-fish, were transferred to one of The Scottish Salmon Company’s farms in the Western Isles, where they will provide a natural means to minimise the impact of sea lice.
Dale Hill, Technical Manager at The Scottish Salmon Company, said: “We recognise the significant potential for wrasse to play a part in the management of sea lice populations within our marine production facilities. However, the capture and use of wild wrasse is not sustainable and farmed wrasse has the advantage of being certified as disease free.
“One additional benefit afforded by the work undertaken with Viking Fish Farms is to build on the knowledge provided by the wrasse farming technology. This will assist in improving the cost basis for this method of sea lice control and therefore extend its use and uptake for sea lice management within our Industry.”
The original research was launched in 2008 and later co-opted into the Ecofish project, a wrasse research initiative financed through the European Regional Development Fund/Northern Periphery Programme, as well as with governmental grants and private funding. The findings from the initiative will be shared with the industry as a whole.
Jim Treasurer, Research Manager at Viking Fish Farms, Ardtoe, said: “The wider salmon farming industry has recognised the benefits of using farmed wrasse to minimise potential impacts on wild fisheries and for use in the control of sea lice. The Ardtoe hatchery working with The Scottish Salmon Company, along with other partners in the Ecofish project, pioneered the rearing of ballan wrasse in Europe. It is encouraging to see that the first of these farmed ballan wrasse are now being stocked with salmon in Scotland.”
Steven Morrison, SSC Marine Sites Manager, was responsible for the transfer. He said: “The transfer was textbook and the wrasse are thriving. It is very satisfying after the time and effort that has been put into this project through training, the preparation of equipment as well as monitoring and recording systems.
“It’s great to be involved in innovative work which will assist fish health long term and which supports environmental excellence.”