Marine finfish aquaculture licence under the Fisheries Act - Appendix VI- Sea lice monitoring protocols

This webpage is intended for informational purposes only.

(Protocols applicable for Atlantic salmon and trout only)


Lice life stages

Year class 1 and 2 – see definitions in Part A of this licence.

1. Sea lice sampling protocols – Production year classes 1 and 2

1.1. Other than the exemptions of COL s.6.2 sampling at each facility shall be conducted in a minimum of three containment structures, i.e. pens. Pens chosen for sampling shall include:

  1. one "reference" or "index" pen (i.e. first pen entered in the system, or the pen with the highest probability of having lice burden based on historical facility information). The fish from this pen are assessed EVERY sampling event; and
  2. two additional pens selected at random for each sampling event.
  3. not withstanding COL s. 6.2 (a), efforts should be made to restrict the "3 pen sampling event" to a 5-calendar-day period, that is the time between conducting sampling from the 1st pen to the 3rd.

1.2. In order to ensure a random sample of fish are collected from the pen:

  1. numerous fish shall be initially captured using a seine net (or alternate method provided it ensures a crowding and representative collection of the pen’s entire population).
  2. a minimum sub-sample of 20 live fish (i.e. 5 groups of 4 fish) shall be randomly collected using a dip net.

1.3. Fish shall then be placed in an anaesthetic bath (i.e. ‘tote’) or humanely euthanized (e.g. in cases where biological sampling is lethal).

1.4. Physical handling shall be minimized to protect the fish and avoid dislodging lice.

1.5. All sampled fish shall be examined for the presence of lice regardless of the health status or size (i.e. robust, moribund or runt).

1.6. Sea lice on each selected fish shall be discriminated, counted and recorded for reporting in the following four categories:

1.7. When sampling of each pen is completed, water in the anaesthetic tote shall be examined for detached sea lice. Lice dislodged and found within the handling totes must also be counted and categorized in the manner above, recorded as the ‘tote count,’ and included in the calculation of the total lice number (per pen) and average abundance (per fish).

2. Sea lice sampling protocols for broodstock

2.1. Broodstock shall be sampled in the same manner as production fish until their second winter at sea (i.e. the broodstock pens may be selected in the normal course of selecting three pens on the farm during the month for sampling including bi-weekly counts). If a broodstock pen is randomly selected, 20 fish shall be sampled.

2.2. In January/February of their second and subsequent winters at sea:

  1. a broodstock population on broodstock facilities shall be selected for sampling. Twenty broodstock from one pen shall be assessed.
  2. a broodstock population at production facilities, that are of a different year class than the production fish at that same location, shall be selected for sampling. Twenty broodstock from one pen shall be assessed.

2.3. After January/February of the year in which those brood are anticipated to spawn as two-winter brood, and to reduce handling-related injuries and stress on broodstock:

  1. all sea lice monitoring shall be conducted opportunistically (or via other husbandry sampling). In other words, all sea lice monitoring shall be coordinated with other routine broodstock handling procedures, such assorting, moving or medicating.
  2. broodstock shall be subject to a visual inspection twice per month for the presence of sea lice and any associated grazing blemishes and observations recorded.

3. Licence holder recording and reporting requirement

3.1 Licence holder’s records shall contain the following information for reporting as per Condition of Licence, Section 7 and Appendix VI-A. The records shall contain the:

  1. date and details of the most recent use of anti-sea louse products;
  2. sampling date of each pen count;
  3. year class of the sampled fish;
  4. unique pen identifier;
  5. number of fish sampled for each pen for each sampling event;
  6. sampling method used;
  7. total number of lice counted, per pen (including the detached lice in the anaesthetic bath);
  8. lice counts separated into four categories as described above (at a minimum); and
  9. action taken if calculated trigger abundances are reached.

3.2 Calculated Pen averages, Sampling Event averages, and Farm Abundance records shall be stored at the facility and made available upon request by the Department.

3.3 Reporting "null" (0) in Appendix VI-A and an explanation is required if no lice monitoring was undertaken at an active production facility.