Open marine net pens facilitate virus and sea lice transfer, occasionally leading to infections and outbreaks of disease in farmed salmon. A review of 3 salmon pathogens (infectious salmon anaemia virus [ISAV], salmon alphavirus [SAV] and the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis) shows that increased risk of exposure to neighbouring farms is inversely related to distance from and directly related to biomass at the source of infection. Epidemiological techniques integrating data from oceanography, diagnostics and pathogen shedding rates and viability contribute to improved understanding of pathogen transmission pathways among farms and permit the designation of areas of risk associated with sources of infection. Occupation of an area of risk may increase the likelihood of exposure, infection and disease among susceptible fish. Disease mitigation in mariculture occurs at 2 scales: area-based (coordinated stocking, harvesting and fallowing) and farm-based (vaccination, early pathogen detection, veterinary prescribed treatments and depopulation or early harvest in the event of viral disease). Collectively, implementation of mitigation measures results in virus disease outbreaks of shorter duration with lower mortality and therefore reduces the likelihood of pathogen transmission. In contrast, the mitigation of sea lice transmission is less likely to be effective in some areas due to the loss of parasite sensitivity to therapeutants and to dissemination of larval lice when parasites occur below management thresholds. For wild populations, risk of pathogen spillback is estimated from farm-based epidemiological data; however, validation, particularly for ISAV and SAV, is required using direct surveillance.
Jones, S. R. M., Bruno, D. W., Madsen, L., & Peeler, E. J. (2015). Disease management mitigates risk of pathogen transmission from maricultured salmonids. Aquaculture Environment Interactions, 6(2), 119-134. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00121