From left: Rune Risnes (aquaculture lead in Salt Ship Design AS), John Marshall (head of Benchmark Animal Health) and Frank Edvard Vike (chief sales officer at MMC First Process) shake on the deal in Bergen, Norway.

Benchmark seeks one-ship-solution for novel lice treatment

Ectosan Vet producer wants to integrate filtration system into wellboats


Aquaculture biotechnology business Benchmark Holdings has entered into a partnership with two Norwegian companies to integrate its CleanTreat water filtration systems onboard wellboats.

CleanTreat is used to filter water containing Benchmark’s novel lice treatment Ectosan Vet, but this currently involves the use of separate CleanTreat vessels that operate alongside the wellboats in which the delousing takes place.

Benchmark’s partnership is with MMC First Process, a leading supplier of systems for live fish handling and logistics, and Salt Ship Design AS. The agreement aims to deliver an integrated wellboat solution by combining the expertise of the three companies.

The objective is to integrate CleanTreat with MMC First Process’ Technologies System Solution for fish handling into a wellboat design provided by Salt Ship Design.

Increased efficiency

Benchmark said an integrated solution should further increase the efficiency and sustainability of the entire water purification solution. The project will be conducted in two phases, and the wellboat design solution is expected to be delivered within the next six months. The first wellboat with the integrated solution could be in operation within 2025.

There are two CleanTreat systems in operation today, both working in Norway. Benchmark has a third system available for a customer or operator wishing to secure capacity for the use of Ectosan Vet, and this is being discussed with several interested parties, said the company.

Benchmark added that the integration of CleanTreat into wellboats will increase the accessibility of the solution for the aquaculture industry and enable greater use of sea lice medicines in an environmentally responsible way. It added that the partnership demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to optimise CleanTreat and make it more accessible by broadening the range of availability and continuing on its path to improving the system on other platforms, such as PSVs (platform supply vessels) and barges.

Barges and PSVs

John Marshall, head of Benchmark Health, said: “The opportunity for Benchmark to work with two strong companies in this industry is fantastic. We are confident we will see early synergistic opportunities from the project to increase efficiencies in our current and future operations on wellboats and other customer-owned platforms such as barges and PSVs.”

Being able to fit a CleanTreat system to a customer-owned vessel might open the door for the use of Ectosan Vet in the Faroe Islands, currently the only country other than Norway where the medicine has marketing authorisation. Biosecurity concerns mean the CleanTreat vessels in use in Norway cannot also be used in the Faroes.

A Benchmark spokesperson said: “We are in close discussions with the Faroese farmers with regard to how best support their sea lice management needs. This new opportunity could help to facilitate a CleanTreat operation in the Faroe Islands and elsewhere.”

Unique initiative

Asked who would pay for the extra costs of fitting a CleanTreat system to a wellboat, Benchmark said that as for a normal wellboat charter, the costs of operation will be incorporated into the charter contract between the wellboat owner/operator and the contracted farming company(s).

Salt Ship Design chief executive Egil Sandvik said: “We see the collaboration with Benchmark and MMC First Process as a unique initiative. Combining the parties’ technologies and know-how will significantly improve and streamline the onboard sea lice management.”

Frank Edvard Vike, chief sales officer for MMC First Process, said: “We are looking forward to working together on this project and to integrating our system solutions into a purpose-made and optimised vessel with Benchmark and Salt Design.”

A CleanTreat vessel and a wellboat positioned together during the treatment of Ectosan Vet emission water.