Sea lice, a parasite that lives on salmon and feeds on their blood and tissue, has caused production problems for the salmon farming industry in 2016 and retailers have had to raise prices or reduce package sizes as a result of the drop in salmon production and soaring demand.

Salmon are farmed in sea cages that are open to the ocean environment and depend on currents to remove the metabolic wastes produced by the salmon. While this practice reduces the costs of farming salmon, it exposes the fish to infection by parasites and pathogens that naturally live in the ocean currents. Sea lice, which are a normal part of the wild salmon environment, can multiply and spread rapidly when the infective stage enters the salmon cages. The density of the salmon in the cages makes it easy for the infective stage to locate a fish to grow on. The lice’s life cycle speeds up in warmer water, which is why the most serious infections occur in the summer when the lice grow faster and produce more eggs.

Land-based farming, such as what AquaBounty proposes for its AquAdvantage Salmon, completely removes the threat of sea lice from the production process. “The opportunity for any pathogen to enter a land-based RAS is dramatically reduced, eliminating the need for expensive treatments, antibiotics or vaccines,” said AquaBounty’s CEO, Ron Stotish. “AquaBounty sources its eggs from a government inspected disease free hatchery and observes an extraordinary level of biosecurity in it’s operations.”

AquaBounty represents the future of Atlantic salmon farming; AquAdvantage Salmon is a desirable, safe and nutritious product that is sustainably grown.

Here is an animation that illustrates the components of a modern land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS).

Visit our Technology page to learn more about land-based salmon farming, and view the Video: Rethinking fish farming produced by the Denmark Water Forum, and Video animation: What is land-based fish farming by the Freshwater Institute.