Researcher Esben Beck, inventor of the sea lice proyect. (Photo: Beck Engineering/FIS)
New treatment for sea lice: machine vision and laser
Thursday, February 09, 2012, 15:20 (GMT + 9)
Researcher Esben Beck has come up with the idea to use machine vision and laser to address the sea lice problem intrinsic to salmon breeding. In early 2010, this idea had a patent pending and Beck Engineering started planning the project.
Since then, Beck Engineering has developed and strengthened its work with a method for optical sea lice treatment expected to set a new standard in the salmon farming industry. Phase 1 started in February 2011 and ran until December.
The company showed that it is possible to track, recognise and shoot lice with an optical method using a laser. Research proved that it is possible to kill the lice without injuring the treated fish in controlled environments and in a laboratory.
Phase 1 was funded by the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF), three industry partners and Beck Engineering.
For Phase 2, Innovation Norway, Marine Harvest, Lerøy Seafood Group and SalMar agreed with Beck Engineering on an Industrial Research- and Development contract (IFU) that will last from December 2011-March 2013. These 15 months will involve testing in realistic environments and further development.
|Sequence of laser targeting a sea louse. (Photo: Beck Engineering )
Presicion, fish health and safety will be some of the main concerns here.
Beck Engineering and partners will focus on creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly method for delousing farmed fish and ideally commercialise and fine-tune the treatment in 2013.
Lepeophtheirus salmonis, a type of sea louse specific to salmonids (salmon, trout and char), is a natural parasite of saltwater salmon present in all sea areas in the Northern Hemisphere. The salmon louse is the commonest parasite in farmed salmon and a persistent problem in the industry.
Further, the more farmed fish there are in the sea, the more “hosts” there are for the lice to attach themselves to and thus the more louse eggs spreading in the water.
"For a number of years, oral and bath treatments have been used to combat sea lice. Our monitoring of sea lice shows that their numbers are increasing noticeably, and that in some cases they are developing resistance to the favoured treatment," said the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.
The Institute of Marine Research noted that the regulations in force require compulsory treatment of salmon lice when the number of lice exceeds a certain limit (action limit).
“The aim is gradually to replace and reduce chemical treatments through the introduction of alternative methods of action," the institute said.
By Natalia Real