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The epidemiology and control of sea lice infections in UK farmed Atlantic salmon and the role of database modelling in commercial aquaculture - VM02134

Each year sea lice infections are a major constraint to the productivity and health of commercial salmon populations in the UK. Recently there has been concern about sea lice infections on wild stocks. Currently a wide range of approaches is adopted to minimise the impact of these infections with mixed levels of success. The main objective of the proposed research programme is to establish sound scientific findings that can inform government and industry on how best to control sea lice through effective management practices, efficacious use of veterinary medicines and assessment of environmental risk.A statistical epidemiological and mathematical data modelling approach is proposed whereby the SULLepsiS multifactorial database, incorporating L salmonis and C elongatus sea lice counts compiled from commercial farms throughout Scotland in recent years, will be further extended and analysed for evidence which explain variation in sea lice abundance. The work builds upon recent findings on national patterns of sea lice as reported in publications emanating from the DEFRA/LINK Aquaculture ENV12 (1999-2002) research programme. The involvement of industrial partners will ensure that the results will be relevant and directly communicated to farm health managers, the scientific community, trade groups, industry and government bodies. The results will also be reviewed in the context of sea lice control practices adopted in other salmon producing countries. The epidemiological and modelling methods developed will be promoted for use in other areas of aquaculture for the benefit of UK industry and science.
1. To further develop and validate statistical linear models for the identification of farm management and environment factors that can reduce levels of sea lice infestation on farmed salmon.2. To investigate novel methods for the sustainable control of sea lice and in particular the role of the use of new in-feed veterinary medicines within an integrated pest management strategy.3. To establish a network simulation model of local sea lice populations during salmon production cycles that can be used to support tactical on-farm decision making.4. To formulate mathematical population models of the temporal relationship between the two major species of sea lice on salmon hosts, taking account of potential interaction, competition and differences in life-cycle behaviours to assess the effectiveness of national control strategies.5. To undertake comparative epidemiological studies of sea lice control practices commonly adopted in Europe, North America and Chile to ensure best practices are adopted within the UK.6. To review historical records of various detailed sea lice patterns on farmed salmon between 1976 and 1980 for evidence of temporal changes in sea lice epidemiology.7. The promotion of generic analytical methods emerging from the research programme to ectoparasitic diseases of new commercially farmed fish species.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2003

To: 2006

Cost: £247,962
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Strathclyde
Animal Health              
Plants and Animals              
Veterinary Medicines              
Fields of Study
Animal Health
Veterinary Medicine