scientists with sea lice
in their sights


The UiB’s Sea Lice Research Centre is staffed by more than 40 scientists. “We can’t get rid of sea lice altogether, but we can get the problem under control,” says Professor Frank Nilsen.


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:

  • A method has been developed to identify resistance to treatments in sea lice.
  • A substance that makes the salmon less attractive to sea lice is now added to the fish feed.
  • The strain of sea lice in the laboratory is non-resistant, and therefore unique in the world. This means that the lice’s migration at sea can be traced through accurate experiments.
  • Systematic experiments with medication and vaccines are being conducted.


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.

Photo above:
According to Professor Frank Nilsen, who heads the Salmon Lice Research Centre at the University of Bergen, continuity and a long-term approach are the only things that produce results in scientific research.

Did you know that...

986 000


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)