Zero Lice with AkvaVis?

Scientist Tom Kjøde directed the questions too the global fish farming industry in Bergen this week.: What if we could model the effect of different sea lice countermeasures and combine with a decision support system? Would it allow fish farmers to make better decisions?

04.03.2016 by Gunn Janne Myrseth

Zero Lice with AkvaVis?

Wei He (Statoil), Audun Iversen (Nofima) and Tom Kjøde in the workgroup session at NASF. Photo: Head of Communication CMR, Gunn Janne Myrseth

The need for modeling
In order to make optimal decisions to eliminate sea lice, the industry needs the models that would show the effect of different types of sea lice countermeasures, applied in various sequences and combinations, and predict the outcome in many locations.  This was the message from our scientist Tom Kjøde when he met the industry during The North Atlantic Seafood Forum Conference.

Tom pointed out that aquaculture industry is having a hard time staying on top of the situation with a large number of possible sea lice countermeasures with complex interactions and side effects.  The lack of a one-type-fits all solution is very apparent, and as the moderator Nils Haga put it: "There may never be a quick fix to the sea lice problem".

Even as options are overwhelming, there is insufficient data currently available to make fair comparison between lice countermeasures.  There may also be insufficient data for modelling the spread of sea lice in the fjords, but the Institute of Marine Research is making good progress.  Filling in the lacking data and gathering expert knowledge in software like CMR AkvaVis may be the key to optimal use of sea lice countermeasures in a coordinated effort across the aquaculture industry.  The right methods depend so much on location, yet a coordinated effort is absolutely necessary.

Fish farming has numerous duties related to control- and documentation of  sea lice. This is because the sea lice are not an individual problem, but influence the ecosystem. The scale of industry operation, makes it no longer possible to take the “try and see" approach.  An increased number of lice on one site, will increase the number of released eggs and larvae, and put more infectious pressure on your own location as well as on neighbouring fish farms as well as to the wild species.

“The consequences are grim, both for the wild species and for fish farmers.  There is huge invested capital in your industry, and you don't want to play roulette with it.” – said Tom Kjøde. “Analysis of efficiency of countermeasures, on the other hand, brings predictability and helps to make the optimal decisions.”

Site models would indicate how each location will respond to infectious pressure and contribute to infectious pressure. The Institute of Marine Research coastal model can then predict lice transport and interactions with farms and wild fish.  Christian Michelsen Research's  "AkvaVis" has been set up for managing marine resources in Norway, France and China.  It can easily be updated to the latest IMR sea lice model, and will provide a head start to a decision support tool for sea lice countermeasures.

Such a tool can be used to find a combination of countermeasures to allow increased biomass without increased contributions to lice pressure.

There is a room for industry and organizations to collaborate to develop site models.  By taking initiative, they can ensure that models represent real life results, and give fair comparison between countermeasures.