Argyll team seeks to solve sea lice challenge

In the second of the 'SAIC introduces' series, we would like you to meet our Consortium member Kerr Mac Aquaculture Solutions.

Argyll electrician Gavin Kerr and his business partner Dougie MacPherson, a local joiner, set up Kerr Mac Aquaculture Solutions Ltd in 2019. Gavin often does contract work on fish farms and in 2016 was challenged by a farm worker to solve the problem of sea lice. Having thought about it that evening, he mentioned it to Dougie in the Clachan pub over a pint. By using their combined skills, they began to develop a design to combat the problem, eventually designing an innovative, non-intrusive device that can significantly reduce juvenile sea lice.

Now named the ‘Lice-o-Lator’, the device works by using a specially selected blue light (with the highest propensity for attracting juvenile sea lice) and compressed air to attract juvenile sea lice, which are then captured in a re-usable filter. The device floats on the surface of the pen and recirculates the water on the top 1/3rd of the cage every 24 hours, and also has an impact in reducing plankton and algae, improving gill health.

Lice-o-Lator can offer the industry an alternative solution to tackling the challenge of sea lice without physical intervention, chemical treatments, and handling of the fish.

The device can reduce loss of growth, potential mortalities of salmon (and cleaner fish), as well as reducing the operational costs of treatment. It only requires services already on site – electricity and compressed air.

In August 2018, the first prototype was deployed in one of 12 cages on a local fish farm site for an initial 11-week period. The device was found to be robust, withstanding the environmental conditions and easy to use.

Headline results from the farm’s weekly lice count data showed:

  • 40% reduction in sea lice juveniles versus site average during the trial;
  • 28% reduction in calignous versus site average during the trial;
  • 70% reduction in sea lice juveniles versus site average after the trial, demonstrating the lifecycle was broken.

Since then, the Lice-o-Lator has been trialled on further sites and continues to deliver promising results.

The next step for the team is to secure funding so that they can produce more devices in order to undertake a full-scale commercial trial on a whole farm.

Visit the Lice-o-Lator website