Sea Lice: Farmed and Dangerous
The Science on Sea Lice is Clear
Cutting edge research published in the prestigious journal Science in December, 2007 was the first study (link to abstract) to calculate the impact individual wild salmon mortalities from sea lice infestation can have on the population of a whole run of salmon.2 The recurrent louse infestations associated with salmon farms in BC’s Broughton Archipelago, have depressed wild pink salmon populations there and placed them on a trajectory toward rapid local extinction. The Science study shows louse-induced mortality of pink salmon is commonly over 80% and exceeds previous fishing mortality. The study concludes:
- If outbreaks continue, a 99% collapse in pink salmon population abundance is expected within two salmon generations (four years) from the study’s publication date and local extinction is predicted.
- A 99% population collapse means, in just four short years, the pink salmon runs in the area will disappear, impacting the bears, orcas (killer whales), eagles, seals, sea lions and fish species that they sustain.
- The decaying bodies of salmon also fertilize riparian (stream-side) forests, contribute to nutrients and feed coastal food webs. The loss of pink salmon populations will erode the entire coastal ecosystem, threatening the survival of not only the flora and fauna but also the communities and economies that depend on these resources.