A new report that claims a scientific link between fish farms and sea lice infecting wild Canadian salmon is just more misinformation masquerading as science, says Positive Aquaculture Awareness (PAA).
The report on the impacts of lice on juvenile Pacific salmon in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, says there is a link between sea lice from fish farms and the decline of certain wild salmon stocks in Canada's Pacific Ocean (see abstract below).
In a news release Positive Aquaculture Awareness says this latest anti-aquaculture assault by activist Alexandra Morton continues a well-documented pattern of exaggeration and misleading results.
“The activists don’t care whether their analysis conforms to basic scientific principals or not,” said Laurie Jensen, PAA president. “Ultimately, their aim is to make the front page of the newspaper and scare the public with misleading headlines,” she said.
In her research featured in the latest edition of Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Morton claimed that a species of lice called Lepeophtheirus (“Lep”) was the key culprit tied to salmon farms and was endangering wild salmon runs in the Broughton Archipelago. But the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) latest scientific analysis directly contradicts Morton’s results in three important areas. First, the DFO research found that the vast majority of lice in the Broughton Archipelago were Caligus species – entirely a different species from those Morton alleged were breeding on salmon farms; Caligus have at least 13 different hosts, including herring, stickleback, Pacific smelts and Capelin – all found in abundance in the Coastal area. Second, the DFO research found very low amounts of “Leps,” the species Morton singles out as a major problem, on juvenile fish, demonstrating again that Morton’s claims are exaggerated. Third, contrary to Morton’s allegations, DFO found absolutely no damage to pinks in the Broughton.
“The most likely explanation for the drop in pink populations in 2002 – the year Morton always cites in her anti-farm campaign -- was the super-abundance of pink returns in 2000 and a resulting shortage of food for the vast numbers of salmon fry entering the sea in 2001,” said Dr. Patrick Moore, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Greenspirit Strategies Ltd.
Moore points out that in five years (1960, 1972, 1978, 1998, 1992), DFO indicates there were FEWER pink salmon spawners in the Broughton than there were in 2002. And in three of those years (1960, 1972, 1978) the salmon farming industry hadn't yet been established in the province.
“The activists’ baseless claims are akin to crying wolf,” Moore said. “They should know that if they cry wolf often enough, they lose all credibility – we think that’s starting to happen,” he said.
For more information, please contact: Dr. Patrick Moore, Chairman & Chief Scientist, Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. (604) 221-1990 (office), (604) 250-7400 (cell) Laurie Jensen, President, Positive Aquaculture Awareness (250) 286-8802 (office), (250) 830-7615 (cell) or www.farmfreshsalmon.org
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) infection rates on juvenile pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and chum (Oncorhynchus keta) salmon in the nearshore marine environment of British Columbia, Canada
Alexandra Morton, Richard Routledge, Corey Peet, and Aleria Ladwig
Abstract: This study compared sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) infestation rates on juvenile pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and chum (Oncorhynchus keta) salmon in five nearshore areas of the British Columbia coast selected on the basis of proximity to salmon farms. A 10-week study in the Broughton Archipelago found sea lice were 8.8 times more abundant on wild fish near farms holding adult salmon and 5.0 times more abundant on wild fish near farms holding smolts than in areas distant from salmon farms. We found that 90% of juvenile pink and chum salmon sampled near salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago were infected with more than 1.6 lice·(g host mass)–1, a proposed lethal limit when the lice reach mobile stages. Sea lice abundance was near zero in all areas without salmon farms. Salinity and temperature differences could not account for the higher infestation rates near the fish farms. The most immature life stages dominated the lice population throughout the study, suggesting the source of lice was a stationary, local salmonid population. No such wild population could be identified. The evidence from this control–impact study points to a relationship between salmon farms and sea lice on adjacent, wild, juvenile salmon.