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Grieg launching new vessel to tackle sea lice at its Vancouver Island fish farms

Mechanical system reduces need for medicinal or chemical treatment, company says
Coastal Server, a vessel with a mechanical sea lice removal system. Photo courtesy Grieg Seafood BC.

Grieg Seafood BC will be using a new vessel to remove sea lice from its farm-raised salmon sometime in the new year.

On Dec. 21, Grieg Seafood BC Ltd. announced it has entered a three-year contract with Njord Marine Service Ltd. valued at $11 million annually for the service of its delousing vessel. This 24-metre vessel, called Coastal Server, is equipped with a mechanical delousing system that can remove sea lice from farmed salmon.

Coastal Server and its delousing system will be used by Grieg at its farms on both the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island, as well as the Sunshine Coast. The vessel will also provide regular maintenance support to these farms.

The delousing system it features is the SkaMik 1.5, which uses a combination of soft rotating brushes and low-pressure water nozzles to remove sea lice. The mechanical delousing system can be used on fish of all sizes and can treat up to 150 metric tonnes of fish per hour under ideal conditions, helping to limit the use of chemical and medical treatments, according to the company.

“As an organization, we are committed to reducing the overall impact from our operations,” said Rocky Boschman, managing director for Grieg Seafood BC Ltd., in a press release.

The SkaMik 1.5 system removes 97 per cent of sea lice in all life cycle stages, said Boschman.

“The process itself is incredibly quick – with each fish only spending about 1.5 seconds in the delousing system,” said Dean Trethewey, Grieg seawater production, certifications and regulatory director. “This helps to reduce stress for the fish, and enables us to treat entire farms within a matter of days with an immediate reduction of lice in the region.”

Sea lice that are removed from farmed fish are then disposed of on land, says Grieg.

The vessel is currently clearing Canadian Customs and Transport Canada. Grieg hopes to have it in use at its farm by January 2022 — in time for out migration of juvenile wild salmon.

“This isn’t a coincidence, but by design, as we recognize the importance of maintaining low lice levels during this critical window,” said Trethewey.

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