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Salmon Farms to be Emptied during Migration Season

CANADA - British Columbia's leading salmon farming company is to create safe corridors for migrating pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago.

Marine Harvest Canada has said it will empty salmon farms during the spring out-migration of wild juvenile fish, but it wants government permission to increase production at other farms to make up for the loss.

The plan follows warnings that Central Coast pink salmon face extinction as a result of sea lice infestations caused by salmon farms.

"The company has made changes to its operations to adapt to concerns about the sea lice on wild salmon," Marine Harvest spokesman Clare Backman told the Vancouver Sun.

"This is something that conservation groups have been calling for for a number of years."

Last month the company took out advertisements to update the public on the results of its sea lice management plan in the Broughton Archipelago.

"The out-migration of juvenile salmon began in March and is soon to be finished in June," Clare Backman said at the time.

"Over the past months, Marine Harvest has taken significant action to reduce and eliminate the potential for sea lice transfer from its salmon farms to wild juvenile salmon."

Marine Harvest staff monitor farmed salmon monthly for presence of sea lice. In May, Marine Harvest fish farms in the Broughton area averaged 0.17 lice per fish. The levels of sea lice are lower than last year's levels during the same period.

Now Marine Harvest has said that under its Coordinated Area Management Plan (CAMP), the company will create migratory corridors in the Broughton Archipelago during the out-migration season from 1 March to 30 June each year.

Beginning in 2010, the company's four farms in lower Knight Inlet will be emptied of fish during that time, the company told the Vancouver Sun.

In odd-numbered years beginning in 2011, Marine Harvest's five farms along the Tribune-Fife migratory route will be empty during the out-migration. At no time during the out-migration will any Marine Harvest Broughton-area farms contain adult fish.

During the out-migration season in 2009, only one farm, at the western end of the Tribune-Fife corridor, will have fish present, Marine Harvest's announcement said.

View the Vancouver Sun story by clicking here.