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Research facility looks into RAS diseases


Carlo C. Lazado, senior scientist at Nofima (Image: Nofim)

The Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (also known as Nofima) has initiated work at a new research facility that is investigating infectious diseases in recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) environments.

The Norwegian research body is working with Tromsø Aquaculture Research Station and UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. They have decided to conduct their research in a RAS environment because RAS facilities currently dominate salmon production, therefore infection models must be reassessed and adapted to RAS.The RAS facility in Tromsø is the first of its kind, according to Nofima.

“Preliminary results also show that infection trials in RAS facilities can be conducted faster than in flow-through systems,” according to Nofima. “…The conclusion after the first experiments is that the infection models worked very well and that the RAS trials can be carried out in less time compared to trials conducted in flow-through systems.”

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The research aims to establish disinfection protocol strategies and protocols on how to manage outbreaks.

Nofima explained that many RAS facilities in Norway and North America have disinfection protocols. However, it is uncertain how effective these are if pathogens such as viruses and bacteria enter the system.

“In the RAS trials, we have simulated, among other things, how pathogenic bacteria get into the RAS facilities,” said Carlo C. Lazado, senior scientist at Nofima. “This allows us to study how disease develops in the fish, while at the same time we can investigate how and where the pathogens establish themselves and spread throughout the system.”