Finding out when and how best to vaccinate cleaner fish can help improve salmon farming Finding out when and how best to vaccinate cleaner fish can help improve salmon farming

UK researchers have received funding to determine the best conditions for vaccinating ballan wrasse against a potentially fatal disease.

The project – led by the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture and the salmon producer Mowi, with support from Otter Ferry Seafish, Ceva Ridgeway Biologicals and the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) – could have a positive impact on the health of the cleaner fish, with improvements on their ability to treat sea lice bringing benefits to the salmon farming industry.

Ballan wrasse currently receive vaccinations against multiple health conditions at the hatchery stage. However, the group will look at alternative formulations of the vaccine, which could offer greater protection against disease.

“Enhancing vaccines for Aeromonas salmonicida could represent a significant step forward in the use of ballan wrasse in aquaculture,” explained Dr Sean Monaghan from the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling.

“By testing a range of conditions and variables, we are aiming to identify the optimal process for delivering vaccinations, which can then be implemented across the sector to enhance disease prevention among ballan wrasse populations.”

SAIC chief executive, Heather Jones said that ballan wrasse were a core element of efforts to sustainably tackle the challenge of sea lice and that vaccinations were essential for long-term success. Dougie Hunter, technical director at Mowi, echoed her comments, saying that the wrasse were ‘excellent cleaner fish and a natural solution to effectively managing sea lice on salmon’.

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