Salmon farmer doubles efforts in gill health

gill health The project will look at the effect of geography and seasonal influences on gill health. Image: Scottish Sea Farms
Industry Database

Scottish Sea Farms will lead an applied research project focused on increasing understanding of gill health in farmed salmon, part of its ‘prevention over cure’ approach to fish welfare.

The project team will focus efforts on exploring the effect of geography and seasonal influences on gill health, in order that additional preventative and continuous measures can be identified and deployed; and testing the accuracy of a range of new biomarkers; a suite of veterinary tests which help indicate the health status of fish and will enable more informed decisions.

Scottish Sea Farms’ head of fish health, Dr Ralph Bickerdike, said: “The gills are hugely important to the overall health and wellbeing of Atlantic salmon, yet the factors affecting these vital organs are as highly complex as they are little understood.”

Second collaboration

The GB£601,000 project – of which Scottish Sea Farms will fund 62% – will be the salmon farmer’s second such collaboration with academics at the University of Aberdeen, feed specialists BioMar and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

“This second gill health project seeks to explore further the early insights gleaned in our initial collaboration, helping increase knowledge of the key risks and how to pre-empt and avoid them,” said Dr Bickerdike.

Scottish Sea Farms’ Lismore North farm in Loch Linnhe experienced unusually high mortalities of 22% during the last crop as a direct result of complex gill health disorder.

The Lismore North farm also witnessed 15% mortalities earlier in the same crop due to Saprolegnia, another area currently being researched by Scottish Sea Farms, SAIC and partners.

There was an overall survival rate of just 59% for the total crop.

This compares with survival rates in excess of 90% for the previous three crops.

Across our Scottish Sea Farms’ estate, average end of crop survival is now 87.2%.

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