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Surface environment modification in Atlantic salmon sea-cages: effects on amoebic gill disease, salmon lice, growth and welfare


Wright, DW and Geitung, L and Karlsbakk, E and Stien, LH and Dempster, T and Oldham, T and Nola, V and Oppedal, F, Surface environment modification in Atlantic salmon sea-cages: effects on amoebic gill disease, salmon lice, growth and welfare, Aquaculture Environment Interactions, 10 pp. 255-265. ISSN 1869-7534 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.3354/AEI00269


Surface environment modification is a potential parasite control strategy in Atlantic salmon sea-cage farming. For instance, a temporary low salinity surface layer in commercial-scale snorkel sea-cages has coincided with reduced amoebic gill disease (AGD) levels after an outbreak. We tested if a permanent freshwater (FW) surface layer in snorkel sea-cages would lower AGD and salmon lice levels of stock relative to snorkel cages with seawater (SW) only and standard production cages with no snorkels. Triplicate cages of each type with 2000 post-smolts were monitored in autumn to winter for 8 wk and sampled 4 times. Lower proportions of individuals with elevated AGD-related gill scores were registered in SW and FW snorkel cages compared to standard cages; however, these proportions did not differ between SW and FW snorkel cages. Individuals positive for AGD-causing Paramoeba perurans were reduced by 65% in FW snorkel relative to standard cages, but values were similar between SW snorkel cages and other types. While total lice burdens were reduced by 38% in SW snorkel compared to standard cages, they were unchanged between FW snorkel and other cage types. Fish welfare and growth were unaffected by cage type. Surface activity was detected in all cages; however, more surface jumps were recorded in standard than snorkel cages. Overall, fish in FW snorkel cages appeared to reside too little in freshwater to consistently reduce AGD levels and salmon lice compared to SW snorkel cages. Further work should test behavioural and environmental manipulations aimed at increasing freshwater or low salinity surface layer use.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:aquaculture, cage environment, Salmo salar, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, Paramoeba perurans, parasite control
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fish pests and diseases
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - aquaculture
Objective Field:Aquaculture fin fish (excl. tuna)
UTAS Author:Oldham, T (Mrs Tina Oldham)
ID Code:131845
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2019-04-09
Last Modified:2019-05-06

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