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Reduced Sea Lice Brings Hope, but No Promise

BROUGHTON ARCHIPELAGO, CANADA - The preliminary results from the 2009 Coordinated Area Management Plan (CAMP) released by the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) and Marine Harvest Canada show reduced lice levels, but CAAR say that this problem is far from solved.

The latest news hopefully provides interim relief to wild salmon in the Broughton Archipelago that have been severely affected by sea lice from salmon farms, says CAAR. This temporary strategy to fallow some farms on an alternating basis during the wild salmon out-migration period was undertaken by CAAR in an attempt to address the immediate threat of local extinction faced by wild pink and chum in the region.

If salmon farming practices remained unchanged, local extinction was a probable outcome. Caution should be exercised in any interpretation of the results until the analysis is final, says CAAR. Furthermore, these management changes for net-cage farms fall far short of what is needed to provide lasting protection for wild fish and marine ecosystems.

The CAMP executed in the Broughton depends on the use of SLICE to reduce sea lice numbers on farmed fish. SLICE is a known neurotoxin and is classified as a marine pollutant. Its use in aquaculture as an additive to feed has not been approved by Health Canada or by the US Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for regulating chemicals used in food products sold on the US market, by far the largest buyer of Canadian farmed salmon.

"In depth research has not been conducted on the effects of SLICE on non-target organisms and the environment in BC, making the increased dependence on this chemical an unaddressed issue," says CAAR.

"Net-cages and the CAMP fail to address a host of other environmental concerns that are affecting the marine ecosystem locally and globally: no re-capture of fish feces, waste feed, or chemical residues; no way to prevent the transfer of disease between wild and farmed fish; lethal entanglements of marine mammals; and the use of more wild fish to make the feed compared with the amount of farmed fish produced (i.e. a net loss of protein). A long term solution is needed: raising fish that do not deplete wild fish stocks and closed containment systems that allow waste, disease, and marine life interactions to be controlled.

"The net-cage salmon farming industry is a global problem. The CAMP is an interim relief strategy that attempts to address the immediate threat of sea lice on wild fish being implemented by one company, in one small region of one production area. The stocking levels for Marine Harvest Canada salmon farms are fixed in an agreement and limits their production in the Broughton Archipelago to recent levels. This management plan does nothing to address the many problems associated with the net-cage industry and does not provide relief for wild fish in other regions, reduce the impacts of other companies, or remove the risk of net-cage expansion.

"A solution that protects our wild fish and marine ecosystems will not be found in the net-cage industry."

the Fish Site Editor

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