09/17/2016 08:31 EDT | Updated 09/18/2017 01:12 EDT

New Brunswick aquaculture company receives $3.2 M in federal funding

BLACKS HARBOUR, N.B. — A New Brunswick aquaculture company has received $3.2 million in federal funding to develop a process to remove a type of parasite from farmed salmon.

The parasites, called sea lice, attach themselves to the bodies of both wild and farmed fish, feeding on their mucus and skin.

Cooke Aquaculture, based in Black's Harbour, N.B., is working to develop a device and process that uses warm water to remove sea lice from salmon, achieving a 95 per cent removal rate.

Officials say the new process will reduce sea lice-related losses and provide a green alternative to managing sea lice outbreaks.

Cooke estimates sea lice infestation in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador alone have cost industry more than $75 million over the last five years.

Ottawa says $3 million of the funding is conditionally repayable, while $247,000 is coming from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Cooke is also providing about $1.9 million towards the $5.1 million project.

The company processes and sells 115,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon every year and has operations in the Atlantic provinces, United States, Chile, Spain, Argentina, and the United Kingdom.