Veterinarians’ comment on the news “Salmon from farms bred sea lice” (Vetscite News 12 April, 2005)

Aquaculture vets in BC counter critics and confirm that sea lice levels are ‘properly controlled’.

The Association of Aquaculture Veterinarians in Canada’s British Columbia has outlined concerns over a mathematical scenario of how sea lice might be transmitted from farmed salmon to wild salmon, referring to a study widely publicised worldwide last week which gave birth to headlines such as ‘Parasite on farmed salmon threatens wild species: study’ or ‘Farm sea lice plague wild salmon’ in some major international media.

Under provincial regulation the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (BC MAFF) requires all salmon farms to have a comprehensive Fish Health Management Plan (FHMP) as a condition of license. These plans include mandatory monthly or more frequent sea lice monitoring for Atlantic salmon at all marine net pen sites. This monitoring is done and paid for by the farms.

Periods of juvenile salmon out-migration have been determined by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). During these periods BC MAFF requires mandatory action if sea lice levels exceed 3 mobile lice/fish. In the Broughton area lice levels must be at these low levels before March 1st. To ensure that sea lice numbers are being sampled and reported properly, BC MAFF audits sampling by the farms on a random basis. For example, in 2005 during the peak smolt out migration 50% of the active salmon farms in BC will be sampled by BC MAFF fish health staff. During the first two weeks in March 2005 the BCMAFF Fish Health Veterinarian attended a number of farms in the Broughton area and confirmed that the lice levels on the farms were being properly sampled and controlled as per the management agreement between BCMAFF and the industry.

BC Salmon Farmers Association
10 May, 2005

Original web page at BC Salmon Farmers Association