The salmon farmer said the new system, similar to its existing Hydrolicer, will be deployed at all its seawater sites in the Discovery Islands and Broughton Archipelago regions of British Columbia.
David Kiemele, managing director of Cermaq Canada, said: ‘As a company, we made the global commitment to move to prevention, and non-chemical means of treating for sea lice as our first lines of defence.
‘Over the last few years, Cermaq has partnered with a company – Sea Farm Innovations (SFI), based in the Faroe Islands - on the development of a new technology, similar to our Hydrolicer.’
Mitsubishi owned Cermaq, which is also currently trialling a semi-closed containment system in British Columbia, said the SFI technology uses only pressurised, ambient-temperature ocean water to remove sea lice and eggs.
No chemicals or medications are used for the treatment and the system captures the removed lice and eggs for disposal on land following treatment.
While the Hydrolicer, installed on board a barge, has the capacity to treat 50 tonnes of fish per hour, the new unit can treat up to 200 tonnes of fish per hour.
‘The system is significantly more compact than the Hydrolicer, and it will be on a vessel, which means our employees will be able to travel between farm sites without the use of a tug boat,’ added Kiemele.
Brock Thomson, innovation director for Cermaq Canada, said the system had been designed with fish welfare in mind.
‘We have used this technology at our farms in Chile with good success and we are excited to bring it here to our Canadian operations.
‘The fish are brought into the SFI system through the intake pump, where they then travel to the gravity controlled flushing chamber. The system has a patented flushing technology that loosens, then removes sea lice from the fish.
‘The system does a great job of removing lice, while still being gentle on the fish. The short treatment duration – about 0.2 seconds per fish - is also important to note as this creates minimal stress, which also helps to support better welfare for our fish.’
The SFI system, costing around $14 million for both the unit and the vessel, is under construction and scheduled to arrive in Canada in early 2021. It will be trialled at Cermaq’s Norwegian operations prior to making the journey to Canada.
Cermaq said it has invested heavily in innovation and technology to improve its Canadian farm practices, providing benefits to both wild and farmed populations.
The company, which has 25 salmon farm licences and operates four hatcheries across northern Vancouver Island, employs more than 300 people.
Salmon farmers in BC have been told to phase out open net pen production by 2025 following an election pledge last year by Justin Trudeau