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Pulcea uses acoustic energy to attack lice by oscillating oxygen bubbles released during hydrogen peroxide treatment. Photo: Pulcea.
Pulcea uses acoustic energy to attack lice by oscillating oxygen bubbles released during hydrogen peroxide treatment. Photo: Pulcea.

The development of an innovative new treatment method to control lice in farmed salmon has moved a step closer with the merging of interests between two experts in the field.

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Pulcea, which has been developing the use of sound energy to improve the efficiency of existing sea lice treatments, has joined forces with Norwegian lice medicine and treatment equipment supplier Aqua Pharma to accelerate the delivery of its technology, from testing through to commercialisation.

Under the six-figure deal, Aqua Pharma has bought a 50% stake in Pulcea, with the remaining 50% jointly owned by Pulcea managing director Ian Armstrong and technical director Ian Jamieson.

Oscillating bubbles

Current lice treatment methods include bathing the salmon in hydrogen peroxide, which breaks down into water and oxygen after treatment.

Using acoustic power in conjunction with hydrogen peroxide during treatment causes the oxygen bubbles that attach to the sea lice from the breakdown of the hydrogen peroxide to oscillate, causing more damage to the lice whilst being less stressful for the fish.

Ian Armstrong: Investment takes technology to commercialisation.
Ian Armstrong: Investment takes technology to commercialisation.

Ongoing innovation

Pulcea managing director Ian Armstrong, who also looks after Aqua Pharma’s Canadian operations, said: “The Pulcea team welcomes the investment of Aqua Pharma to develop our technology during these challenging times when ongoing innovation is so important to the international salmon farming community. 

“Sea lice can be a challenge when growing salmon and many different treatment methods are currently in use or under evaluation. 

“A system such as ours, which combines efficiency with a focus on the wellbeing of the fish and the environment, will be a vital addition to the armoury of treatments and enhance the sustainability of the industry. 

“Our target markets include those early spring treatments undertaken prior to the wild salmon smolt migration, along with the intensive autumn season.

“Traditionally, the Norwegian industry are great implementers of good ideas, and this investment from Aqua Pharma will take our sea-lice technology from the current testing phase through to widespread commercialisation as rapidly as Covid-19 restrictions permit.”

Elvin Bugge:
Elvin Bugge: "We are very excited to be involved in bringing it to the market."

Perfect fit

Aqua Pharma chief executive Elvin Bugge said: “For Aqua Pharma this investment into Pulcea fits perfectly within our mission to contribute to responsible, sustainable, aquaculture by innovating and developing effective, minimum impact and gentle treatments for the fish under our customers’ care and we are very excited to be involved in bringing it to the market.”     

In 2018 Innovate UK provided a three-year support package which has funded Pulcea’s veterinary project manager, Dr Rachel Brown. By the end of the funding period in 2021 the objective is to have introduced the innovative new treatment throughout the international salmon farming industry.

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