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HomeNewsSea lice prevalence in the Discovery Islands remains low: BCSFA

Sea lice prevalence in the Discovery Islands remains low: BCSFA

Data from the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) finds sea lice levels in the Discovery Islands remain low, both prior to and after the decision to shut down local salmon farms.

A new BCSFA report released today (Nov. 25) compiles and analyzes the results of five years of independent sea lice monitoring.

“What has been in the public, and has become a very common narrative, is that there are very high levels of salmon lice on migrating salmon, because of salmon farms,” Brian Kingzett tells My Campbell River.

The BCSFA Director of Science and Policy, who’s also the author of the report, finds when you take salmon farms away, lice levels don’t change.

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“What that suggests is that maybe it was not the farms that were the cause of the natural sea lice,” Kingzett explains.

“There are ambien levels on migrating salmon, biologists have known that for a long time. And this ‘natural experience’ has suggested to us that maybe there are other things in play.”

He continues, “That does not mean that salmon farmers are not going to continue to do everything they can to make sure that there is no risk of increased lice levels from salmon.”

The BCSFA says sea lice on salmon farms are treated under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada regulation, as well as individual company veterinary supervision.

It points to parasitic sea lice as part of the natural ecosystem, having co-evolved with salmon over millions of years.

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But Kingzett’s report also mentions research articles, one from the National Academy of Sciences claiming as little as two can kill a salmon.

Kingzett adds that B.C. salmon farmers have invested millions of dollars in robust, innovative technology to mitigate and manage sea lice – helping to lower the overall lice population.

It was back in December 2020 when fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan announced a plan to eliminate existing Discovery Islands salmon farming operations in the area within 18 months.

*Following the report, Alexandra Morton, a researcher for B.C.’s Coast Field Station, called it “nonsense.” While expressing her opposition, she said salmon farmers should “take an honest approach.”

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