Sea lice are a key limitation to sustainable salmon aquaculture, and effective monitoring strategies are critical for the management of these parasites. Sentinel cages are an established means of assessing infestation pressure at fixed locations, but as smolts move through systems they will be exposed to varying lice densities. As a means of assessing infestation pressure along trajectories, we describe the development and application of towed sentinel cages (TSCs) in a Scottish sea loch containing salmonid aquaculture. Trial deployments took place over 3 yr (2016-2018), and levels of sea lice infestation were compared between methodologies. Oceanographic data was collected alongside TSCs to put the results into the environmental context that smolts and sea lice experienced during the tows. The sea lice infestation rates found from TSCs were comparable to those on contemporaneously deployed fixed sentinel cages. Thus, due to their practicability and consistency with other surveillance methods, TSCs could be used to improve the assessment of exposure risk along wild salmonid smolt migration trajectories, where these are known.
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