Sea-lice under control reports audit

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
22 December 2006, at 12:00am

BRITISH COLOUMBIA - B.C. fish farms are keeping infectious disease and sea lice under control in their populations, according to a three-year audit of coastal salmon farms conducted by provincial inspectors.

Releasing the findings at the legislature Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Pat Bell said the government report wasn’t to refute other studies suggesting that sea lice from fish farms are a threat to wild salmon. But he said the findings of nearly 100 random farm visits show that salmon farm operators are reporting their sea lice levels and treatments accurately, and that they are effective in reducing the exposure of young wild salmon to sea lice from farms.

B.C. regulations call for salmon farms to monitor the number of sea lice on each farmed fish. When the average number of lice reaches three, the farms are required to either harvest the fish or treat them with a drug called SLICE that is added to fish feed.

Audit results showed the number of lice on farmed salmon to be reduced to an average of less than one during the crucial period when young wild salmon migrate past coastal salmon farms on their way out to sea.

“We’re not creating any judgments, we’re not saying this is good or not good,” Bell said. “What we’re saying is, clearly there is a good system in place for reporting, that the sea lice numbers are very low, and we think that the regime that we have operating out there is successful.”

A University of Alberta study released in September painted a much different picture of the sea lice threat.

It concluded that up to 95 per cent of young salmon were dying from exposure to sea lice, which are artificially supported by adult salmon in farms along migration routes.

Source: North Island Gazette