Why use lice skirts?
Lice skirts can be an effective part of sea lice management strategies to aid in the control and the prevention of the ectoparasite, Lepeophtheirus salmonis.
A lice skirt is a passive and flexible solution that can be adapted to many different types of cages, environmental conditions and ensures straightforward practical use.
From peer reviewed research we can recognize that lice skirts are an effective part of a multi-prevention approach and do not compromise fish welfare!
What are the benefits of using lice skirts?
The report “Permanent skirt for reducing lice infestation on salmon, Final report, FHF project 900711” by Sintef provides useful information on the benefits of using lice skirts for sea lice control.
Regulations for the control of lice in aquaculture facilities require that there should be, on average, less than 0.5 adult female lice per fish and that measures shall be implemented to ensure that the amount of salmon lice does not exceed this limit. Most farmers must treat for lice at least 2-3 times per production cycle. Losses from salmon lice are estimated to be around NOK 1.7 per kg of salmon produced in Norway (Costello, 2009). The cost/benefit of using lice skirts are certainly in favour the benefits! Not only are they more economically viable, but they also help to safeguard the welfare of the fish by considerably reducing the amount of handling events to treat for sea lice.
When it comes to fish welfare, a reduction in lice infestation will lead to a lower risk of secondary infection, injury and, in worst cases, mortality. Sea lice are showing increased resistance to chemical treatments and if mechanical or thermal delousing operations can be avoided or significantly reduced, this will also prevent unwanted handling that stress the fish and can also cause physical injuries. A reduction in lice infestation will reduce lice pressure for the farmed fish, the surrounding marine environment and reduce the risk of infecting wild fish!
Read the full report here:
Bui et al. (2020) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0044848619317326
Stein et al. (2018) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0044848617313893