Plans to dramatically upgrade a laser delousing device were revealed at this week’s Fish Vet Society conference in Edinburgh.
Stingray’s louse laser was the subject of a talk by the company’s General Manager, John Arne Breivik, who outlined how the innovative concept is becoming ever-more sophisticated. Although, according to Breivik, the current model – which fires 5 laser pulses per second, each of which are capable of killing up to 15 lice – has been constantly evolving since it was launched, there are plans in the pipeline for a major upgrade.
The second generation of the machines will, Breivik explained, offer more than the just ability to remove individual lice.
“We aim to develop the system so that they can not only kill individual lice but also count them, as well as measure the biomass of the fish. The same system will soon also be able to target specific areas – such as behind the adipose fin – which are lice hotspots, allowing it to be even more effective,” he said.
Not that the current generation of lasers are proving ineffective – in fact, Brevik pointed out, the lasers are becoming increasingly accurate and are now able to target not just adult, but also pre-adult lice and can prioritise their targets, with adult females being the first to be hit.
At a time when the increased use of numerous mechanical delousing systems by the salmon industry is being questioned, due to the fact that they necessitate increased handling frequency of the fish, Breivik also emphasised the fact that his lasers can be deployed 24/7 in virtually all weather conditions, without disturbing the fish. Should the new generation be able to count the parasites effectively then it could further reduce the need to subject fish to lice counts outwith the water.
“We like to think of them as technological cleanerfish,” he reflected.
Breivik says the company, which now employs 27 people, has now sold 100 of the laser units – mainly in Norway, as well as 12 in Scotland – and expects 150 more to be sold over the course of 2017. In the long term he is seeking to expand to Canada and Chile, once he is able to establish distribution hubs and technical support teams in these countries.