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Cermaq applies for option to use hydrogen peroxide-based sea lice treatment

We have received some questions about our application for the option to use Paramove 50, a hydrogen peroxide-based sea lice treatment. To answer these questions, we have prepared this Q&A.


Hydrogen Peroxide Q&A

What treatment has Cermaq applied to use?

  • Cermaq has applied to use a pest control treatment called Paramove 50, which contains hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as its active ingredient.

  • Hydrogen peroxide is an effective treatment for removing sea lice, a naturally-occurring ocean parasite, from farmed Atlantic salmon.

  • This treatment is already commonly used in other parts of the world, and has been used in BC by other companies.

  • Cermaq has no immediate plans to use this treatment at any particular sites, but has applied to have the option of using it because a good fish health plan will consider multiple options for pest management.

What is hydrogen peroxide?

  • Hydrogen peroxide is almost the same as water, just with one more oxygen molecule ( H2O2 ).

  • That extra molecule gives it a lot of useful properties, and is in many products and processes, including:

    • Making paper white

    • Land-based agriculture

    • Disinfectants

    • Household products such as cosmetics, hair dye, and toothpaste

  • Hydrogen peroxide is found naturally in the ocean environment and in many living creatures.

  • Hydrogen peroxide breaks down in the environment to form water and oxygen. 

What risks to the environment are there from this treatment?

  • Every human activity has effects. As long as this treatment is used properly, there are no risks of harming the environment, other than the sea lice which are being targeted.

Will this treatment hurt wild fish?

  • As long as the treatment is used properly, there are no risks to wild fish.

What happens to the environment when you do a hydrogen peroxide treatment?

  • Farmers must first decide if it’s even appropriate to use this treatment, and will consider environmental conditions such as:

    • Ocean temperatures

    • Ocean salinity

    • Organic material in the water

    • Currents

    • What sea creatures are present nearby

  • If a treatment is used, it is diluted quickly by ocean water.

  • Hydrogen peroxide is highly reactive in natural waters and breaks down rapidly after a treatment to form water and oxygen.

  • Because of dilution, and how fast it breaks down, a hydrogen peroxide treatment does not accumulate in the water, sea floor, or sea life.

  • Trained staff must constantly monitor water quality throughout the treatment to make sure it is being used correctly.

Does it hurt the farmed fish?

  • There have been cases where improper treatments have done harm. However, if the treatment is used as intended, it does not hurt farmed or wild fish.

  • Farmers need to take good care of their animals, because they are their livelihood, so they will take many steps to make sure the treatment is done properly and doesn’t harm the fish.

Why does Cermaq want to use this treatment? Is there a sea lice problem?

  • Land-based farmers rely on multiple methods to keep their crops and animals healthy and pest-free. A good fish health plan for salmon farmers will also consider multiple options for pest management.

    • For more than a decade, there has only been one sea lice treatment available for salmon farmers in BC. This will give us more options.

  • Sea lice levels on BC salmon farms have stayed at about the same average for the past decade (see page 15 of this report). Sea lice are a natural part of the ocean environment, and are commonly found on wild fish. Farmed salmon enter the ocean free of diseases and parasites, but can get them from passing wild fish.

  • Cermaq wants to use this treatment for several reasons:

    • Its low environmental impact (it’s more natural than using in-feed treatments)

    • Cermaq is pursuing several third-party certifications, such as ASC, which encourage the reduction of drug treatments for sea lice

How does Cermaq plan to use this treatment?

  • We will use a specialized boat with the treatment on board in tanks. Fish are moved through the boat, where the treatment removes sea lice from their scales. They are then returned to their pens. 

Why has Cermaq applied to dump millions of litres of this pesticide into the ocean?

  • Cermaq’s permit outlines the maximum total amount of product that can be used over a multi-year period. Cermaq is not going to be “dumping millions of litres” into the ocean.

  • We are applying for the option to use this treatment, only if needed, and on a site by site basis. A good fish health plan for salmon farmers will consider multiple options for pest management.


Alternative Sea Lice Treatment Applications
Location Type Documentation Date
Campbell River North Hydrogen Peroxide Application and Treatment Area Maps No date set
Clayoquot Sound Hydrogen Peroxide Application and Treatment Area Maps No date set
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