During the past three years, Bakkafrost has participated in a research project with the objective to identify potential cleaner fishes to be used in the combat against salmon lice in Faroese aquaculture. The most suitable fish indigenous in Faroese waters turned out to be the lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus), and an attempt was therefore made to cultivate this fish at the Faroese research station in Nesvík. The result was that Bakkafrost in April 2015 could stock the first ever Faroese bred lumpfish on our sea site at Kunoyarnes. Culturing lumpfish with salmon carries some adjustments in working practices, and this first stocking has been an attempt to identify the right adaptions necessary for the lumpfish to thrive together with the salmon. Among other things, we have established good procedures for transferring the lumpfish to sea, found out which shelters the lumpfish appear to thrive in and implemented good feeding practices.
The effect of lumpfish in the lice control has also been a natural part of this project. The stomach content of the lumpfish is regularly examined, and we often find lice-remains, which reflect the lice-feeding activity in the cages. In addition, we are closely monitoring the amount of lice per fish in each cage, and here we can observe lower lice numbers in cages with lumpfish compared to cages with no lumpfish. This is especially evident the first period in the sea when the salmon is relatively small.
Experiences from our site together with experiences from other farming companies have shown the potential of lumpfish as cleaner fish, and they must be considered as an important tool in a chemical free lice-defeating strategy. With better knowledge about the biology of the lumpfish and the interaction between salmon and lumpfish, we will be able to develop this tool even further. This is something that Bakkafrost is aiming at in the future, and these first experineces with the Faroese lumpfish is definitely a good foundation to build further on.