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BC Salmon Farmers Faces Another Attack

Scientists and ativists write open letter to Canada's leaders, expressing their conviction that BC’s wild Pacific salmon are under threat from sea lice breeding on farmed salmon

September 19, 2007


BC Salmon Farmers Faces Another Attack

In British Columbia, Canada, 18 scientists, researchers and activists have sent an open letter to Canada's Prime Minister, Stephan Harper and Premier Gordon Campbell expressing their conviction that BC’s wild Pacific salmon are seriously threatened from sea lice breeding on farmed salmon.

Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. Wade Davis, Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, Alexandra Morton and others said they are convinced by the published scientific evidence that the debate is over: "sea lice breeding on farmed salmon are threatening BC’s wild Pacific salmon"

The letter said  the weight of scientific evidence was enough to enact the precautionary principle: the only management action able to ensure the protection of wild salmon stocks from farmed salmon is closed containment.

Not so fast, said the B C Salmon Farmers Association. Sea lice occur naturally in the marine environment, it said. Juvenile farmed salmon are transferred from fresh water hatcheries - in which sea lice cannot survive - and enter the ocean lice free. Good farm maintenance and animal husbandry helps to prevent outbreaks but should one occur treatment is mandated by our regulators who conduct frequent inspections of fish on the farms.

"We are reassured by research findings showing that medications used to treat lice are effective. While the signatures to the letters believe there is no need for additional research we disagree".

The fact that sea lice infestations pass to and from wild salmon is agreed by scientists and environmental groups alike. However, it is debatable whether the transfer of sea lice from the farmed salmon to the wild salmon is on a sufficient scale to have an impact.

More sea-lice information at: http://www.salmonfarmers.org/files/sea_lice.html

To read other scientists opinions visit: http://www.aquacultureassociation.ca/news/Sea_Lice_Fact_Sheet.pdf

In 2006, the BC Pacific Salmon Forum funded a variety of research initiatives, many of which looked at the wild/farm salmon interactions and sea lice. Visit www.pacificsalmonforum.ca to see abstracts of the research findings.

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