BC Pacific Salmon Forum Releases Report Commissioned to Summarize Scientific Studies on Sea Lice and Salmon
To facilitate public understanding of the science concerning sea lice and Pacific salmon, the Forum has published a comprehensive review by BC scientist Dr. Brian Harvey, entitled Science and Sea Lice: What Do We Know?
"This highly readable report," says Forum Chair John Fraser; "is intended to provide an overview in plain language of peer reviewed science published in recent years."
This review summarizes 87 peer reviewed scientific papers published between 2004-2008, many from British Columbia. In an introductory "Analysis and Commentary", Dr. Harvey makes several points concerning sea lice research:
- The science on sea lice is actually many sciences, including epidemiology, parasitology, oceanography, meteorology, mathematics, natural history and genetics.
- In the last few years, research standards have been raised and there is much more cooperation between scientists.
- At present there is no scientific consensus on whether sea lice from farmed salmon are causing the demise of wild pink and chum populations.
- Reasons for lack of clarity include knowledge gaps about sea louse natural history and ocean currents as well as disagreement about the design of mathematical models for predicting louse dispersal and spread of infection.
Dr. Harvey says, "It's hard to separate the public from the scientific debate about sea lice, and in BC it's hard to separate both from the more general issue of salmon farming. But behind all the shouting, the science works away as it always has." He also says, "The burden of proof - that sea lice from farmed Atlantic salmon don't cause population decline in wild salmon - is with the salmon farming industry."
Forum Chair John Fraser adds, "This report also confirms that the Forum is on the right track with its initiative to bring together key scientists to develop a more comprehensive analytical framework to interpret scientific findings."
Fraser goes on to say, "There is a lot of new research pending publication and underway - including studies commissioned by the Forum. To incorporate new research that is published during the balance of 2008 the Forum will commission an addendum to this report at the end of the calendar year."
Dr. Brian Harvey is an independent biologist based in Victoria and specializing in conservation of endangered fish species. Since 1982, he has managed a number of fisheries projects around the world and edited or co-authored five scientific books. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and presentations as well as many scientific reports for national and international organizations, including the World Bank and various United Nations agencies. His new book, The End of the River, will be published by ECW Press in 2008.
Science and Sea Lice: What Do We Know (PDF) The views expressed in the report are those of the author.