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Biology and management in the control of lice on fish farms


This Concerted Action aims to increase communication between scientists and industry so as to achieve more effective long term control of sea lice on salmon farms.

It includes
(a) the establishment of a register of persons interested in sea lice biology and control,
(b) a computerised network using the Internet (e-mail and World Wide Web),
(c) circulation of newsletters twice a year, and
(d) production of a computerised bibliography of relevant publications.

Over three years, a series of European workshops or conferences will be held on farm management to control lice, lice biology, host defence mechanisms, cleaner-fish technology, and integrated lice control systems. Workshop proceedings will be published. Participation in activities is open to industry and all scientists actively conducting research, which will contribute to the control of lice on fish farms.
Register of persons interested in sea lice biology and control

At the start of the project a register of "researchers" was compiled by the project partners from previous workshops, conferences and contacts in research and industry. This preliminary document listed over 170 persons with interests in sea lice control. Each person was sent a letter along with a copy of the first newsletter on the 19th May 1997 explaining the nature and objectives of the project and asking them to confirm or make corrections/additions to their interests and contact details. In developing the "register" it became apparent that many persons were more involved in management of lice on farms or involved in aquaculture regulation and were not directly involved in research. Thus the "register" is now more accurately entitled a list of persons interested in sea lice control. On 3rd October 1997 a follow up letter was sent either by post or e-mail to the persons who had not confirmed their contact details to remind them to return the information. All those who did not reply were eliminated from the list. We believe that those who did not reply were either no longer at that address or were no longer actively interested in the subject.

At present there are 169 individuals from 19 countries on the register and requests to join the list continue to be received. This data is stored on a Microsoft Access database and a hard copy of the requests/contact details is also kept on file. The database was designed to store names, addresses and other details. The database also facilitates the easy production of the register in hypertext mark-up language (html) format for the World Wide Web site. It enables pages to be quickly and routinely updated directly from the database, and allows visitors to link directly to subscriber homepages or send them e-mail directly. Address lists and mailing labels can also be produced directly from the database.

New subscribers can join the register by filling out an electronic form at the project WWW site or by sending the following information to the co-ordinator (EcoServe):
telephone number;
fax number;
e-mail address;
homepage (www).


Three newsletters have been produced to date. The first newsletter was produced in April 1997 and was sent to all persons on the preliminary list. It explained the background to the project and gave information on the meeting to be held in Norway in November. After the meeting in Norway two further newsletters were produced. The first of these (Caligus, Issue 2) included a report on the Trondheim workshop on sea lice control on fish farms including the list of delegates, news of the new Internet discussion group on sea lice biology and control, the current mailing list of persons interested in sea lice biology and control, information on the 1998 international symposium on sea lice biology, a notice of an initiative in Canada to develop a lice control strategy, and some papers and abstracts from the workshop. The latter included papers on the "Best current practice for lice control in Norway", "The effect of swimming depth, speed and artificial light treatment in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) culture on the infestation of the copepod Lepeophtheirus salmonis", and "Lice fighting the environmental friendly way".

The third newsletter was devoted to the bibliography of publications relevant to sealice control on fish farms. The newsletters are available on the WWW site and by post from EcoServe.


The bibliography was compiled from EcoServe's existing aquaculture bibliography, literature searches, and information supplied by researchers. All the citations of relevant papers are stored in one file in an EndNote(r) bibliographic database. This stores all the information in standard format and facilitates the easy production of the bibliography in hypertext mark-up language (html) format for the World Wide Web site. In the bibliography in the third newsletter, 464 relevant publications were listed.

World Wide Web site

A World Wide Web site has been established at to host the Concerted Action Homepage. The information available at the site includes the html format of the project newsletter CALIGUS, details of workshops and conferences, the register of persons interested in lice biology and control, a bibliography of sealice literature as well as contact details and an outline of the project. A counter is included to keep track of the number of people visiting the site. The site is routinely updated to incorporate new additions to the register of researchers and bibliography.

E-mailing discussion list

An electronic listserver group has also been established to facilitate discussion between industry, researchers and subscribers. This is open to all those with Internet access. To join the list the subscriber must send an e-mail to leaving the subject line blank, with the message "subscribe CALIGUS firstname surname" in the main body of the message. To send e-mail to all those subscribed to the list you send your message to and the mail is distributed to the people who have signed onto the list. Various other commands will allow you to check the list to see who else is signed up. Currently there are 135 subscribers.

Workshops and conferences

About 50 delegates attended the workshop in Trondheim from 6 - 9 November 1997. The audience was a mix of researchers, government scientists, fish farmers and fish food manufacturer's from Norway, Scotland, England, Ireland, Canada and Japan. This led to discussions ranging from the longer-term visions of solutions to sea lice problems on fish farms, to the immediate needs of farmers in dealing with infestations. Arising from the papers presented and discussions between participants at the workshop articles have been published in Caligus 2 and 3. Further documents are in preparation and will be published in Caligus 4.

Two workshop presentations provided a review of current biological knowledge on lice, lice-host interactions, and host defences, with a view to developing improved control methods in the long term. The first keynote presentation was by Dr Geoff Boxshall, one of the foremost experts in copepod biology in the world, reviewed recent discoveries in copepod biology, which have relevance to lice biology. Better knowledge about how lice find and choose a mate may enable the development of methods to disrupt this behaviour (e.g. trap lice, new treatments). Current studies on the interactions between lice and their host at a chemical level were described by Dr Stewart Johnson. Getting to the exact nature of such interactions will help improve a fish's defences against lice.

The more immediate issues of dealing with sea lice were introduced by speakers from industry. Subsequent keynote presentations by Pelle Kvenseth (HydroSeafood and KPMG) and Jim Treasurer (Marine Harvest McConnell) summarised the development of the lice problem in Norway and Scotland, and how it was being handled in each country at present. David Jackson (Marine Institute Ireland) provided a paper describing the lice management measures in place in Ireland. Following these presentations the audience broke into smaller discussion groups, which discussed the merits of different lice treatment methods, and the best overall lice control strategy today. The results of these discussions will be published in Caligus 4.

Methods for sampling lice as part of monitoring levels on farms were outlined by Pelle Kvenseth and David Jackson, with additional input from Per Andersen, Jim Treasurer, Karin Boxaspen, and Mark Costello. These methods were discussed in some detail, demonstrated on an excursion to a fish farm, and will be published in Caligus 4.



- establishment of a register of 169 persons interested in the biology and control of sealice;
- production of three newsletters;
- compilation of a bibliography of sealice literature;
- establishment of a World Wide Web site which includes a project description, researchers contact details, bibliography, and details of meetings;
- establishment of an electronic list server discussion group on sealice biology and control;
- holding of an industry-researchers workshop in Trondheim, Norway in 6-8 November 1997.

Over the next two years, the project will:
- continue updating the register of persons details;
- expand the bibliographic database to include keywords and summaries of publications;
- produce further newsletters (Caligus 4 is in preparation and will include further abstracts and papers from the Trondheim conference);
- update the Web site and add links to related Web sites;
- manage the listserver email discussion group;
- hold a scientific conference in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in July 1998;
- publish the proceedings of the Amsterdam conference;
- hold a combined conference and workshop in Dublin, Ireland, in 1999 and publish its proceedings.

The three day project conference in Amsterdam, 22-24 July 1998, will comprise of oral and poster presentations concerning recent advances in the biology and control of sea lice. The plenary session speaker will be Mr Gordon Rae, of the Scottish Salmon Growers Association. This will follow the very successful formula of the first sea lice conference held in Paris in 1992, and takes place during the Fourth World and Third European Crustacean Congresses hosted by the University of Amsterdam from 20-24 July 1998. This will enable delegates attending the sea lice sessions to experience crustacean research within its wider context, to interact with the top crustacean specialists worldwide, and to hear about research in important related topics - such as shellfish aquaculture and fisheries. The proceedings will be peer-reviewed and published after the meeting. This sea lice meeting is being organised by Dr Geoff Boxshall on behalf of the partners in this EU Concerted Action.

The theme of the third and final project meeting to be held in Ireland will be "Integrated lice control". This will include topics such as host defences, lice biology, management practices, use of chemotherapeutants, fallowing, wrasse, and include industry, aquaculture management and research speakers. The project welcomes and invites suggestions as to the scope, format and content of this meeting, which will be finalised following the Amsterdam conference. The project can sponsor the attendance of European researchers without funding to attend meetings.

Lice are the most serious parasite on marine salmon farms in Europe. The lice control methods which are being used and/or developed include chemotherapeutants, cleaner-fish, vaccines and farm management, and it is increasingly clear that a suite of alternative lice control strategies are necessary. The development of these methods benefits from improved understanding of the biology of lice, cleaner-fish and natural host defence mechanisms. The need to control lice is urgent and the pace of research is increased by communication, including the bringing together of researchers at meetings. Communication between researchers from a wide range of disciplines will aid the finding of an environmentally acceptable way of controlling lice, and this may have benefits in treating other parasites and in further understanding of parasites and fish biology. The broad aim of this Concerted Action is to increase communication between scientists and industry so as to better manage and avoid lice infestations on fish farms.


Communication between researchers is being promoted through the establishment of

- a register of persons interested in the biology and control of sea lice,
- an information page in the World Wide Web linking to the newsletter and bibliography,
- an open email discussion group on the internet,
- circulation of a newsletter twice a year,
- production of a computerised bibliography of relevant publications,
- and a series of European workshops or conferences.

Responsibilities for the workshops and conferences are divided between the main partners, while the co-ordinator leads the other tasks.

Workshops compare methodologies, discuss the results of recent research and identify the needs of future research. From each workshop selected papers will be published in an internationally available publication (e.g. in the newsletter, industry magazine, scientific periodical or as a book). At the end of the project, a comprehensive review will be produced by the co-ordinator. This will include a review of sea-lice control options, their strengths and weaknesses, and key areas for further research.

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