Sea lice are considered a major threat to wild salmon and sea trout, and a growing body of research is looking at sea lice, salmon farming, their impact on wild salmonid populations and the potential role of climate change in these interactions.
LiceTrack is an international European Union–funded project under the auspices of NASCO which aims to support the development of an integrative model to account for biological, environmental, oceanographic and anthropogenic drivers of sea lice populations. The model will predict the potential occurrence and abundance of sea lice across locations and seasons under different environmental conditions in three countries: Ireland, Scotland and Norway. Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is the lead participant in LiceTrack, with project partners from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research; Institute for Marine Research, Norway; Marine Scotland Science and the National University of Ireland, Galway
Experimental work for the LiceTrack project is principally being carried out by IFI at the National Salmonid Index Catchment. Field trials to validate the model will use sentinel cages to monitor salmon exposed to the environmental conditions and lice levels in Killary Harbour. The project aims to refine existing modelling tools developed in Norway and Scotland that simulate larval sea lice dispersal based on farm production, hydrodynamics, water temperature and salinity.
Ultimately, LiceTrack will provide a tool which can be used to determine the larval sea lice output and distribution on a site specific basis, incorporating local environmental conditions. This project will contribute to developing best management practice for sea lice control and define a range of production strategies aimed at reducing the presence of sea lice and their negative impacts on wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout.