Recent years have seen an increase of sea lice appearing on inshore fish stocks, especially in areas where salmon fish farms have become established.
Fish farms have struggled to control sea lice explosions on farmed salmon and some environmentalists say the consequences of the explosion is having a negative effect on the natural marine environment.
Two new science reports have been published investigating sea lice dispersal between finfish aquaculture management areas around Scotland.
The peer-reviewed article published in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science looks at modelling output at a regional scale with some specific examples. The report for the Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science (SMFS) series provides more in depth information for each region.
Although modelling studies examining sea lice connectivity in Scotland have been published before, this is the first study that looks at the whole coast and islands, instead of individual water bodies, or a relatively small subset of areas.
This was done using the Scottish Shelf Model, and its sub-models, to highlight and analyse the large-scale dispersal between Farm Management Areas. These are areas defined by the aquaculture industry primarily to coordinate practices to control parasitic sea lice, which have a large economic impact on the industry and raise significant wild fish conservation and farmed fish welfare issues.
The results of these studies provide information which can help develop more effective parasite control strategies.
You can read more on the report here.