Aquaculture for all

Upstream Battle for BC Salmon

US - A report co-authored by BC fisheries researcher Alexandra Morton and published recently in Science magazine, says pink salmon stocks in the Queen Charlotte Straits Broughton Archipelago have declined 80 per cent over the last four years and if current trends continue, the species could be headed for extinction.

The report’s authors place the blame squarely on sea lice incubating in net-pen fish farms. We asked Morton just how bad things are likely to get.

What were the findings of the study you recently co-authored?

Alexandra Morton said:

"We found that sea lice from fish farms can take a salmon population from historic levels to within one per cent of that in eight years. So for pink salmon, which are on a two-year cycle, that’s four generations. "This was done by looking at the data that exists and projecting into the future. We saw a trend that is a very steep line.

"We looked at where the Broughton Archipelago pink salmon stocks are at halfway down that timeline. So we have four more years, or two generations left, on this trajectory before we’re within one per cent of where we were at the outset of this study.

"And all of this is based on nothing changing—so if sea lice get worse or there’s a natural disaster, this line will go faster. If there’s a break in the infection cycle it will be slightly slower, but on average, we have four more years."


Further Reading

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