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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 133:69-82 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03329

Modelling sea lice control by lumpfish on Atlantic salmon farms: interactions with mate limitation, temperature and treatment rules

Gregor F. McEwan1,*, Maya L. Groner2,3, Allegra A. B. Cohen4, Albert K. D. Imsland5,6, Crawford W. Revie1,7

1Department of Health Management, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada
2Prince William Sound Science Center, Cordova, AK 99574, USA
3US Geological Survey, Western Fisheries Research Center, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
4Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0570, USA
5Akvaplan-niva Iceland Office, Akralind 4, 201 Kópavogur, Iceland
6Department of Biology, University of Bergen, High Technology Centre, 5020 Bergen, Norway
7Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1QE, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Atlantic salmon farming is one of the largest aquaculture sectors in the world. A major impact on farm economics, fish welfare and, potentially, nearby wild salmonid populations, is the sea louse ectoparasite Lepeophtheirus salmonis. Sea louse infestations are most often controlled through application of chemicals, but in most farming regions, sea lice have evolved resistance to the small set of available chemicals. Therefore, alternative treatment methodologies are becoming more widely used. One increasingly common alternative treatment involves the co-culture of farmed salmon with cleaner fish, which prey on sea lice. However, despite their wide use, little is understood about the situations in which cleaner fish are most effective. For example, previous work suggests that a low parasite density results in sea lice finding it difficult to acquire mates, reducing fecundity and population growth. Other work suggests that environmental conditions such as temperature and external sea louse pressure have substantial impact on this mate limitation threshold and may even remove the effect entirely. We used an Agent-Based Model (ABM) to simulate cleaner fish on a salmon farm to explore interactions between sea louse mating behaviour, cleaner fish feeding rate, temperature and external sea louse pressure. We found that sea louse mating has a substantial effect on sea louse infestations under a variety of environmental conditions. Our results suggest that cleaner fish can control sea louse infestations most effectively by maintaining the population below critical density thresholds.


KEY WORDS: Salmon aquaculture · Lepeophtheirus salmonis · Salmo salar · Cyclopterus lumpus · Agent-based modelling · Mate limitation · Cleaner fish


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Cite this article as: McEwan GF, Groner ML, Cohen AAB, Imsland AKD, Revie CW (2019) Modelling sea lice control by lumpfish on Atlantic salmon farms: interactions with mate limitation, temperature and treatment rules. Dis Aquat Org 133:69-82. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03329

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