"Our current sea lice management may require the use of an in-feed drug (SLICE™)," said Clare Backman, Marine Harvest Canada's Public Affairs Director. "Although successful to control sea lice, and sparingly used, our adherence to voluntary but strict third part certification standards require us to continually reduce our use of medication."
The new treatment available to BC salmon farmers, diluted hydrogen peroxide, is applied as a bath to a group of salmon. The bath removes small, naturally occurring, external fish parasites (sea lice) attached to the salmon. Hydrogen peroxide rapidly breaks down into harmless compounds: water and oxygen.
Diane Morrison (DVM) oversaw the recent treatment process and says the procedure was safe for staff and fish. "Ninety-five per cent of the sea lice on our fish were removed by a single treatment," Ms Morrison said.
British Columbia salmon farmers are recognised for their successful management of sea lice (Rogers et al, 2013) and for many years have requested additional treatment options to ensure this success continues.
The Ministry of Environment and Health Canada have authorised use of peroxide for a trial period, during which time continued monitoring and reporting will be required by the company.
The sea lice common in BC waters are not a concern to human health, and rarely pose a fish health concern to farm-raised salmon. Marine Harvest Canada is British Columbia's leading aquaculture company and supplier of Sterling brand salmon.