SBB Press Release, 16 Oct 2014: Sea lice Pesticides Exceed Environmental Health Standards

Press Release: Sea lice Pesticides Exceed Environmental Health Standards

16 Oct 2014


A new study has revealed the levels of aquaculture pesticides used to kill sea lice in fish farms are exceeding standards set to protect the environment.1


Researchers took samples of water, sea bed sediment and various marine organisms near Nowegian fish farms. These were tested for Diflubenzuron, teflubenzuron, emamectin benzoate, cypermethrin, and deltamethrin – commonly used pesticides in fish farms.


As Norway has no environmental quality standards (EQS), the data was compared to the thresholds set in the UK. In many cases concentrations exceeded the standards set highlighting that use of the sea lice treatments is posing a threat to the environment.


For teflubenzuron in sediment the EQS was exceeded in 67% of the samples; and levels of diflubenzuron in water exceeded the EQS in 40% of samples collected.


Researchers also note that ‘A crude assessment of the concentrations detected in the shrimp collected from one location and the levels at which chronic effects are seen in shrimp would suggest that there is a potential risk to shrimp. It would also be reasonable to extrapolate this to any species that undergoes moulting during its life cycle’.



‘The value of shellfish landed in Bantry Bay was €646,590 in 2009, supporting a number of jobs.2 It is ludicrous to put this at risk by adding more salmon farms and greater pesticide emissions that have the potential to wipe out stocks’ said Alec O’Donovan Secretary of Save Bantry Bay.


This could result in a significant loss of jobs, given 30 fishermen currently work Bantry Bay for crustaceans such as shrimp, prawns, lobster and crab, and the Shot Head salmon farm would only create two full time positions’.


We fully back the researchers call for international quality standards to be drawn up. Irish environmental quality standards, differ from those in the UK. The standard set for teflubenzuron allows five times the residual quantity in our waters, and we have no standard at all for Diflubenzuron. These were the two most problematic pesticides in this study and both are authorised for use in Irish salmon farms’.


‘To make matters worse, to date the Department of Agriculture has refused to release data on emissions of these pesticides in Irish salmon farms. Despite being of considerable public concern we left in dark about the damage being done to our valuable fish stocks and marine wildlife’ Alec concluded.







Secretary, Save Bantry Bay, Alec O’Donovan, 087 7949227 (mobile) or 027 50508



  1. Langford, Katherine, et al. “Do anti-parasitic medicines used in aquaculture pose a risk to the Norwegian aquatic environment?.” Environmental Science & Technology (2014).


  1. Marine Harvest (2011) Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed salmon farm site at Shot Head, Bantry Bay, County Cork, Ireland

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