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Helm has partnered with Evonik to be the wholesaler for hydrogen peroxide for aquaculture use in Scotland. Picture: Helm
Helm has partnered with Evonik to be the wholesaler for hydrogen peroxide for aquaculture use in Scotland. Picture: Helm

Mechanical delousers and cleaner fish are increasingly coming to the fore in fish farming but two German companies are putting their money on a continuing demand for hydrogen peroxide to combat lice.

Essen-based speciality chemicals manufacturer Evonik and chemical marketer/distributor Helm Skandinavien A/S – a subsidiary of Hamburg-headquartered HELM AG – have outlined plans to sell a pharmaceutical grade H2O2 to the aquaculture industry in Scotland, Norway, Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Inverness-based Aqua Pharma Scotland is currently the sole supplier of hydrogen peroxide to Scotland’s fish farmers.

Helm's Lars Storm:
Helm's Lars Storm: "We have something to offer to the industry."

Evonik and Helm are still waiting for marketing authorisation for the product but expect to have the operation up and running by the final quarter of 2017.

Evonik produces its H2O2 in Antwerp, Belgium, and the product has been tested in trials at VESO Vikan, a leading laboratory for disease trials in Atlantic salmon, in Namsos, Norway. Evonik says the results show that at a treatment concentration of 1500 ppm an efficacy of more than 90 per cent is reached, "equivalent to an established hydrogen peroxide on the market". If any lice stick to the fish, it is mainly adult males.

The manufacturer says that in an additional safety trial findings include variable levels of lethargy and apathy/loss of evasive behavior during the 20-minute treatment. The fish returned to normal appearance and behaviour “after some time”.

Experience in the field

Helm representative Lars Storm told the Aquaculture UK conference held in Stirling this week: “We believe that with our history and with all our experience in the field (of being a chemical wholesaler) we have something to offer to the industry.”

But he was unable to say if Evonik/Helm would be able to offer their product more cheaply than Aqua Pharma’s Paramove, which is manufactured by Solvay Chemicals International in Warrington - the only H2O2 manufacturing plant in the UK - and Jemeppe in Belgium.

Evonik is headquartered in Essen, Germany.
Evonik is headquartered in Essen, Germany.

Evonik employs 35,000 people worldwide, has production sites in 25 countries and recorded sales of €12.7 billion in 2016.

Its Active Oxygens section is one of the world’s largest producers of hydrogen peroxide and its new move means it will become only the third manufacturer of hydrogen peroxide for fish treatment, alongside Solvay and AkzoNobel.

Evonik is already a supplier of amino acids for feed production, and this week revealed plans to build a $200 million commercial-scale facility in Blair, Nebraska, for producing omega-3 fatty acids from natural marine algae for animal nutrition. The facility is being built in conjunction with science-based conglomerate Royal DSM , with each party investing $100m over two years.