Posted | Thursday 7th July, 2011
Sea lice are he scourge of salmon farms where they fasten themselves to the caged fish, adversely affecting their health and appearance. In attempts to kill off the parasite, salmon farmers use pesticides which critics say are harmful to the marine environment.
Professor Ian Bricknell from UMaine's School of Marine Sciences said researchers collected blue mussels from the Maine shoreline and found larval sea lice in their stomachs and intestines. This discovery, he said, could prove beneficial to the states farmed salmon and lobster industries, but to other commercial fisheries as well.
Researchers plan to test the effectiveness of using mussels to combat sea lice by placing a fully loaded mussel raft in the middle of a salmon farm. The mussels will be attached to ropes that hang down 15ft into the water, the maximum depth at which sea lice are commonly found.
Bricknell says that, if the mussels prove effective, a ring of mussel rafts could be placed around a group of salmon pens, effectively shielding the fish from sea lice. To increase the sites productivity, seaweed could be cultivated in the area surrounding the rafts, as seaweed growth is enhanced by nitrogen and phosphates found in salmon effluent. Seaweed has applications in the pharmaceutical and biofuel industries or like mussels and salmon, could be cultivated for human consumption.
"You would have a whole ecosystem where you would have four or five crops" Professor Bricknell said. http://bit.ly/m0ZWwu