e heads the research centre that is at the forefront of international efforts to combat the problems caused by sea lice. More than 40 researchers, equivalent to 20 full-time staff, are engaged in this task.
Sea lice recorded in the 16th century
“Sea lice have been recorded in the literature since as far back as the 16th century, so the problem is not a new one. However, the scale of the fish farming industry has caused it to escalate dramatically. There is no quick fix, but I am confident that we will eventually come up with an integrated system, where medication, vaccines, preventive measures, big data and other initiatives will all have a cumulative effect.”
Periodically, sea lice represent a major problem for the aquaculture industry. It is also a major problem when lice attach themselves to wild salmon passing through the fjord systems.
Professor Frank Nilsen underlines that the aquaculture industry itself must be a part of the solution.
“The vast majority operate responsibly. But if only one out of ten operating in a fjord do not take this seriously, everyone suffers.”
Since 2011, the Sea Lice Research Centre has been recognised as a Centre for Research-Based Innovation (SFI). It has made significant progress:
Budget: NOK 200 million
The Sea Lice Research Centre has a total budget of NOK 200 million, spread over eight years.
“We are extremely keen to continue our work after 2019 as well. Most of all, we would like to solve the problem as quickly as possible, but continuity and a long-term approach are the only thing that produce results in scientific research,” says the professor.
In conjunction with the Institute of Marine Research, the University of Bergen is host to the Sea Lice Research Centre. Other partners include the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), UNI Research, PatoGen Analyse, Novartis Animal Health, Marine Harvest, Ewos Innovation AS and Lerøy Seafood.
A total of 986,000 tonnes of North Atlantic Cod (Skrei) was caught in 2014. The Norwegian Skrei catch was worth around NOK 4 billion that year. A further 45,000 tonnes of coastal cod were also caught.
(Source: Institute of Marine Research)