Managing aquatic parasites for reduced drug resistance : lessons from the land

McEwan, Gregor F and Groner, Maya L and Burnett, Danielle L and Fast, Mark D and Revie, Crawford W (2016) Managing aquatic parasites for reduced drug resistance : lessons from the land. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 13 (125). 20160830. ISSN 1742-5689 (

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Atlantic salmon farming is one of the largest aquaculture industries in the world. A major problem in salmon farms is the sea louse ectoparasite Lepeophtheirus salmonis, which can cause stress, secondary infection and sometimes mortality in the salmon host. Sea lice have substantial impacts on farm economics and potentially nearby wild salmonid populations. The most common method of controlling sea louse infestations is application of chemicals. However, most farming regions worldwide have observed resistance to the small set of treatment chemicals that are available. Despite this, there has been little investigation of treatment strategies for managing resistance in aquaculture. In this article, we compare four archetypical treatment strategies inspired by agriculture, where the topic has a rich history of study, and add a fifth strategy common in aquaculture. We use an agent-based model (ABM) to simulate these strategies and their varying applications of chemicals over time and space. We analyse the ABM output to compare how the strategies perform in controlling louse abundance, number of treatments required and levels of resistance in the sea louse population. Our results indicated that among the approaches considered applying chemicals in combination was the most effective over the long term.


McEwan, Gregor F, Groner, Maya L, Burnett, Danielle L, Fast, Mark D and Revie, Crawford W ORCID logoORCID:;