Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Can the Salmon Farming Industry Reform in Time?

In the Georgia Basin where salmon farms have been implicated in declines upwards of 90% in some salmon populations, the salmon farming industry has increasingly become the subject of intense public and scientific scrutiny. If the industry hopes to stay alive over the long term major reforms are necessary to ensure that they are not having undue impacts on wild populations in the region. Among the principal concerns regarding salmon farms are high densities of parasitic sea lice, which transfer easily to outmigrating juvenile salmon. While sea lice are typically not lethal for adult fish, juvenile fish which become parasitized have extremely high mortality. Further compounding the problem is the fact that SLICE a drug used to treat sea lice outbreaks in salmon farms is increasingly ineffective. Already Norwegian Salmon farms have seen high levels of resistance to the drug and despite adamant denials by industry groups, there is mounting evidence that drug resistance is emerging in sea lice at North American farms.

The only way to reduce the environmental impact of salmon farming is to move the industry onto land, keeping parasites and disease out of the migratory corridors of wild salmon populations. While progress has been painfully slow up to now, some within the industry appear to be getting the message and there have been an increasing number of land based salmon farming operations springing up around the province. The only question now is, will the Canadian government intervene on behalf of wild salmon and help expedite the transition to landbased salmon farming and if not, will it be too late for wild salmon in the Georgia Basin?

An article about increasing drug resistance in sea lice:

Two articles about new landbased salmon farming operations in BC:

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