Sea lice treatments on salmon farms have no adverse effect on zooplankton communities: A case study.

Kate J Willis, Phil Gillibrand, Chris J Cromey, Kenny Black

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30 Citations (Scopus)


The long-term effects of the sea lice treatment products Excis and Slice on zooplankton communities in a Scottish sea loch were investigated at a commercially operating salmon farm over 31 months. Cypermethrin and emamectin benzoate are the active ingredients in Excis and Slice respectively, which are widely used to control ectoparasitic sea lice on farmed salmon. Excis and Slice treatments did not cause basin-wide effects on the zooplankton community. For both formulations, no adverse affects on zooplankton were detected, instead observed changes in zooplankton abundance and community composition displayed natural seasonal cycles of abundance. Water column concentrations of cypermethrin and emarnectin benzoate following sea lice treatments at the fish farm were predicted using models. Cypermethrin concentrations of 3000 ng/l were predicted for short periods immediately after each cage treatment assuming no particle adhesion. The 3-h and 24-h Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) were exceeded for 10 h and 32 h respectively on the second day when five cages were treated. However, cypermethrin concentrations higher than 0.5 ng/l (24-h EQS) were predicted to occur over <2% of the total basin area on each treatment day. The 3-h EQS (16 ng/l) was exceeded in <0.3% of the basin on each treatment day. The concentration of soluble emarnectin benzoate present in the water column was predicted from modelled deposition footprints and sediment concentrations to be of order 10(-3) ng/l. Predicted concentrations of both chemicals were generally lower than those causing toxicity to copepods in previous laboratory studies and further support the results of this field study that environmental concentrations of Excis and Slice do not adversely impact zooplankton communities. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-816
Number of pages11
Issue number0
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Environmental Sciences
  • Marine & Freshwater Biology


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