Use of agent-based modelling to predict benefits of cleaner fish in controlling sea lice infestations on farmed Atlantic salmon

Sea lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Krøyer), are a well-documented parasite of farmed salmonids, and infestations can be costly as a result of chemical treatments to salmonids as well as losses of fish due to mortality and morbidity. In addition to economic losses, high sea lice densities on farms may inflict substantial ecological costs when they infest wild salmonids, and this has led to damaging public perceptions of salmon aquaculture. A number of methods have been pursued within the salmon industry to control sea lice infestations on farms. In this study, we use an agent-based model to simulate the effects of cleaner fish on sea lice loads of farmed salmonids.

The model addresses how best to identify effective wrasse densities in response to varying sea lice infestation risks, how the use of wrasse can impact on the number of medicinal treatments used in a production cycle and how the use of wrasse alters the demographics of sea lice.

sea lice life history and survival