A postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University says a new research paper he co-authored trumps “useful” data from previous studies looking at the effects of sea lice on wild Pacific salmon stocks.
According to Brendan Connors, the paper he cowrote—with SFU professor emeritus Larry Dill, biologist Alexandra Morton, and others—further illustrates how sea lice from farmed salmon are killing wild salmon in the Broughton Archipelago, off northeastern Vancouver Island.
The latest paper is called “Effects of parasites from salmon farms on productivity of wild salmon”, and has just been published in the online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences—a scientific journal. It adds to work already undertaken in a 2010 study, included in the same journal, called “Relationship of farm salmon, sea lice, and wild salmon populations”.
“What we’ve done is we’ve taken the data that they included in that paper, as well as adding to it with a broader consideration for pink salmon populations before the onset of aquaculture, as well as in areas adjacent to where the salmon farming is going on,” Connors told the Straight by phone from his East Vancouver home. “So these are important control populations, if you will. And when we include all the available information that we have, we come to a very different conclusion.”
Connors noted that the mortality for pink and coho stocks ranged from 88 percent to one percent and 92 percent to two percent, respectively, depending on the levels of sea lice.
The paper’s abstract states: “Our results show that sea lice abundance on farms is negatively associated with productivity of both pink and coho salmon in the Broughton Archipelago. These results reconcile the contradictory findings of previous studies and suggest that management and policy measures designed to protect wild salmon from sea lice should yield conservation and fishery benefits.”
Connors said he will appear before the Cohen commission on Fraser River sockeye this week and next Monday (August 29).