Aquaculture for all

Protecting Wild Salmon

CANADA - Recently a group of individuals wrote an open letter calling for action to protect wild salmon. At the British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association, we understand there are many threats to wild salmon and support the efforts of scientists to determine proper protection methods.

When conducting research, individual investigators typically have different perspectives and observations. These differences in scientific perspectives may be confusing to the public but are certainly not unusual during the development of new knowledge.

In BC the topic of sea lice and possible effects on wild salmon continues to attract scientific research and media and public attention. Whose research is right?

It's really a question of understanding what the results mean.

What does the aquaculture industry say - are sea lice a problem?

Sea lice occur naturally in the marine environment.

Juvenile farmed salmon are transferred from fresh water hatcheries - in which sea lice cannot survive - and enter the ocean lice free. Good farm maintenance and animal husbandry helps to prevent outbreaks but should one occur treatment is mandated by our regulators who conduct frequent inspections of fish on the farms.

We are reassured by research findings showing that medications used to treat lice are effective.

While the signatures to the letters believe there is no need for additional research we disagree.

If you're interested in following the debate check back here later today - we are compiling a list of scientific papers by an esteemed group of researchers who have different perspectives and believe more research will add important information to protecting wild salmon and supporting sustainable aquaculture.

To get you started here are a few studies of interest:

Dr. Sonja Saksida of the British Columbia Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences published an article in Aquaculture Research. Saksida's is the first study to consider inter-annual and seasonal variations in lice abundance levels on 33,000 Atlantic salmon from 20 active farm sites. The findings are compared with European and eastern Canadian sea lice reports and considers possible sources of sea lice on farmed salmon. Saksida's conclusion is that sea lice levels on farmed salmon are low when compared to other areas.

Same issue, different question, different findings.

Saksida's research in the Broughton found that sea lice levels on farmed salmon are low in comparison to other salmon farming regions and that sea lice on farms can be controlled with treatments of SLICE® (emamectin benzoate)

Martin Krkosek's most recent research, funded by the Pacific Salmon Forum, considered whether the treatment of farmed salmon with SLICE protects out-migrating juvenile salmon from sea lice transmission from farmed salmon. He concluded treatments have a significant impact in reducing lice levels.

In 2006, the BC Pacific Salmon Forum funded a variety of research initiatives, many of which looked at the wild/farm salmon interactions and sea lice.

Visit to see abstracts of the research findings. Some conclusions drawn from these research findings include:

"Early sea lice infection stages on wild and farmed salmon and the role of sticklebacks" concludes that sea lice naturally infect pinks after ocean entry with the most likely source being incoming king and chum salmon.

"Marine monitoring of juvenile pink and chum salmon and sea lice in the Broughton and Knight Inlet, BC" concludes that sea lice numbers in 2003 (during government enforced fallow) were comparable to 2005 (no fallow)."

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