Sea Lice Are Plaguing the World’s Salmon Supply

And scientists’ wacky solutions don’t seem to be working

The fillets are no longer acceptable to eat once they've been infected.

Well, this is lousy — sea lice are plaguing the farmed fish population and costing the salmon industry’s billions of dollars with their pesky appetites. The proliferating pests are biting and inhabiting salmon and either killing or making them unsuitable for consumption.

Imagine buying salmon with skin covered in swollen bites. Yuck.

The tiny creatures have become a worsening problem for the industry alongside its other parasitic woes, resulting in huge investments in wacky proposals for potential solutions to the problem. Billions of dollars are being poured into counterattacks against the crustaceans, though none have proved sustainably effective thus far.

Researchers have tried zapping the lice with lasers, feeding the fish pesticides, and even creating a “waterslide park” for fish, wherein salmon swim through a tunnel of whirling water to remove the lice from their skin.

“The cost to the salmon farming industry from sea lice is huge,” said Joel Halse, engineer aboard the $4 million “waterslide” vessel. “And having tools to control the population would be huge.”

The pest population is persistent, and just when scientists believe they have found a pesticide or other treatment to massacre the lice, the creatures evolve to survive it.

Meanwhile, salmon supplies are plummeting. The worldwide supply of salmon dropped by 10 percent this past year alone. Are our beloved bagels going to have to learn to part with lox?


Alongside avocado prices, salmon prices have become one of the more dramatically inflated items in the grocery store as the problem continues to worsen. Luckily, we have a few tips to keep your healthy grocery bill much more affordable.