Optilice removes more than 98 per cent of sea lice on salmon and rainbow trout using only temperature-controlled water.
Sea lice are found naturally in marine waters but have reached unnaturally high concentrations due to intensive production of salmon and rainbow trout. When sea lice release eggs into water, these develop into larvae and retard the growth of fish, disrupt their salt balance and make them vulnerable to disease and predation.
Until recently, fish farmers’ only weapon against sea lice has been drugs and chemicals. Sea lice, however, have begun to acquire resistance to the most common and effective delousing agents, making it more difficult to control the parasites. The drugs and chemicals may also have a negative impact on prawns and other species.
Utilising only temperate or chilled seawater or fresh water, Optilice from Optimar removes sea lice effectively, without drugs or chemicals. Fish are gently transported from the net pen into the system, treated, and returned to a clean pen – all in under a minute.
The water temperature in the treatment tanks can be adjusted according to the sea temperature. Optilice can also reuse the heat from the water to reduce energy consumption.
More than 98 per cent of the sea lice will drop off the fish skin because of the difference in temperature, the moving water and a final flushing of the fish before it is returned to the water.
The water passes through specially designed filters, destroying all the sea lice. A specially designed fish pump minimises unnecessary stress to the fish.
Optilice can be delivered with Optimar Commander, a control and monitoring system that provides a complete overview of the operation, ensuring optimal treatment conditions and producing detailed reports that can be submitted to the authorities or other stakeholders.
Optilice can be used with chilled or temperate fresh water or saltwater. The delousing process causes no physiological damage, loss of slime or eye damage. The process is also gentle on the environment, as sea lice are removed without harmful chemicals and are not released back into the water.
The system produces detailed reports documenting all incidents related to the operation.
Today, there are mainly four countries affected by sea lice: Canada, Chile, Norway and the UK. Norway accounts for around 50 per cent of the world’s production of farmed salmon and rainbow trout, while Chile accounts for 25 per cent, and Canada and the UK the remaining 25 per cent.
Each country has regulations requiring fish farmers to use approved methods to reduce the number of sea lice in net pens to a certain amount, and many farms have turned to thermal delousing.
Optilice was launched in 2016. As of May 2019, 55 units have been sold in Norway and used to treat over 5 million metric tons of fish.