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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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CVM Aquaculture Specialists Discuss Sea Lice Products with Norway Delegation

by Jon Scheid, Center for Veterinary Medicine, FDA

On March 10, 2011, CVM aquaculture experts met with a delegation from Norway’s Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Food Safety Authority, and Embassy to discuss U.S. requirements concerning drugs used to treat farm-raised salmon.

Salmon everywhere, including those in Norway’s aquaculture operations, can be infested with sea lice, which are marine parasites that cling to the skin of the fish. To reduce or eliminate the problem of sea lice, Norwegian salmon producers will place certain other kinds of fish that eat sea lice in with the salmon, and they will also leave their salmon net pens empty (fallow) for several months. But, if those techniques don’t effectively limit the sea lice population in the pens, the producers use parasiticides.

The delegation explained that Norwegian producers follow the drug withdrawal times established in Europe to avoid unsafe drug residues in the salmon. No sea lice products are approved in the United States, so imports of salmon with residues of the products are illegal.

The Norwegian delegation explained the economic importance of salmon exports and Norway’s desire to maintain export markets. The delegation came to the United States to meet with officials from CVM, FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and the Environmental Protection Agency to find ways to make sure the use of sea lice products in Norway would not inhibit exports of salmon to the United States.

Attending the meeting for CVM were Dr. Jennifer Matysczak, the team leader of the Aquaculture Drugs Team; Dr. Scott Melton, on the Post-Market Compliance Team and a specialist in the area of drug import tolerance; and Jon Scheid, with the International Programs Team.