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British Columbia

Salmon farms aren’t the only cause of growing sea lice infestations, DFO study claims

A Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) study claims that salmon farms are not the sole cause of the sea lice problem among wild salmon on BC’s west coast.

Based on data provided by salmon farm operators, the study concludes that “no statistically significant association” was observed between the infestation pressure attributed to salmon farms and the likelihood of sea lice infestation in wild salmon in Clayoquot Sound, Quatsino Sound, the Broughton Archipelago and the Discovery Islands.

However, the data suggests an upward trend in the amount of infestations collected over the past decade since 2013, according to the study.

The study concludes that Fraser Island sockeye salmon were at “minimal risk” from all relevant fish pathogens of concern.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCFSA) is quick to point out that fish farms in the waters pose no risk to wild salmon based on the evidence.

“As farmers and as British Columbians, we care about wild salmon and fully agree with DFO Secretary Joyce Murray on the protection of wild Pacific salmon,” said Brian Kingzett, Executive Director of the BCFSA, in a Jan. 24 press release .

However, critics remain skeptical of the evidence presented by the DFO.

Noted activist and biologist Alexandra Morton says she has evidence that suggests otherwise.

“This is not an honest appraisal of what DFO actually found in their research,” Morton said in an email to the Mirror, saying she would release documents with statistics once they were ready.

The First Nation Wild Salmon Alliance (FNWSA) says the numbers released by the DFO and endorsed by the BCSFA simply don’t add up.

In a press release, the FNWSA claims that the industry “understates its lice by up to 50 percent when its count is audited by the DFO,” which it says “why industry data on sea lice on wild salmon never agrees with the research of the best.” universities and research stations in Canada.”

Sea lice occur naturally in the Pacific but thrive on fish farms due to the high concentration of fish.

Farms are required by law to conduct monthly sea lice counts and make the numbers available to the public. The counts are self-reported, but DFO officials can conduct pre-arranged checks to confirm the authenticity of the numbers.

Edward Hitchins
[email protected]
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