Sustainable US cleaner fish production: developing a lumpfish broodstock program

Lead PI: Elizabeth Fairchild (UNH)

PI Email:

Co-PI: Heather Hamlin, Michael Chambers (UNH), Todd Guerdat (USDA)

Project Team: Greg Lambert and Geoff McBriarty (Cooke), Danny Boyce (Memorial University of Newfoundland), and Scott Flood (Blue Water Fisheries)

Abstract: Lumpfish, a species native to the Gulf of Maine, are proven successful cleanerfish that can delouse salmonids when integrated into salmonid farms. This biological control strategy is used throughout all north Atlantic salmonid-rearing countries except in the US. Domestic Atlantic salmon and steelhead trout farmers want the ability to use cleanerfish in their farms, however, there is neither a US lumpfish source nor an established permitting process for using cleanerfish in Maine and NH farms. Developing methods to rear fish in captivity with locally sourced fish and maintain self-supporting populations, is key to the commercial viability of any aquaculture operation, especially when fish will be stocked into sea cages. At UNH and UME, with lumpfish research already underway and an existing captive population, we are able to address this bottleneck. We propose to conduct lumpfish broodstock maturation studies, thus providing a source of lumpfish eggs for other US researchers and bringing attention to and spurring other lumpfish research activities. We recognize the need to more widely disseminate cleanerfish strategies, so a series of stakeholder workshops will be held. Our goal is that the outcome of this research will ultimately lead to the integration of cleanerfish into US salmonid farms.

Project Dates: 12/1/2020 -11/30/23

Project Funding: NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy