Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Salmon Farming Causing Coho Collapse?

A pair of recently published scientific papers are adding new fodder to the long running debate over salmon farming on the BC coast. The papers link the expansion of salmon farming in Broughton Archipelago to the collapse of Coho Salmon. The Broughton has been one of the largest battlegrounds in the fight to protect wild salmon from salmon farms, and at one point biologists feared that Pink and Chum Salmon would be extinct in a few generations. Steelhead and Chinook populations have also collapsed in the region where most freshwater habitat remains nearly pristine.

The biologists found that sealice can jump from juvenile pink salmon to larger juvenile coho during predation and that coho infection rates increased dramatically in areas with active salmon farming. The second paper found that populations of coho in Broughton which were exposed to sealice infestations suffered on average a sevenfold decline in productivity. Salmon farming companies have long asserted that sealice infestations do not negatively effect larger juvenile salmon such as coho, sockeye and steelhead. These two papers along with other evidence of collapsing populations in other parts of the BC coast provide damning evidence that sealice from salmon farms are likely threatening all species of salmon.

Check out an article in the Tyee:

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