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Salmon, you know what’s behind it? Sea lice infestations are more worrisome than we imagine

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Three First Nations in the region are deciding the future of open-net Atlantic salmon farms and hope it will soon lead to conservation of the species.

An increase in Sea lice infestation on farms Testing the survival of wild Pacific salmon in western Canada. There is concern among environmentalists and First Nations indigenous peoples to determine the future of this type of trade.

But what are sea lice and what are their effects? Sea lice are parasites that feed on the skin, muscles and mucus of salmon (but not trout). It is estimated that eleven lice are enough to destroy a salmon. These parasites cause skin lesions on the fins, reduce swimming ability and alter the growth and feeding of these fish. The waterways around the Broughton Archipelago are filled with salmon farms, open mesh enclosures, and cages, creating precisely the conditions these sea lice need to thrive.

Two types of sea lice are found in Pacific waters: Calicus clemency and Lepiopterus salmonis. In the early 2000s, people living in the archipelago began to notice wild pink salmon hatchlings infested with lice. In 2002, the number of wild pink salmon entering the rivers and streams of the Broughton Archipelago fell from over three million in 2000 to just 147,000 in 2001, an unprecedented decline.

“The open-net salmon farms in Broughton are a cause for concern,” said Andrew Bateman, a marine biologist with the Pacific Salmon Foundation. “Similar farms are associated in the Atlantic. The spread of sea lice is causing a decline in wild populations in Norwegian waters.

Concerns about the future of Pacific salmon, Mamalilikulla, ‘Namkis and Kwikwasut’Inuks Hakswa’mis First Nations They have begun their decades-long struggle to eliminate wild salmon farms, protect these fish and move toward sustainable aquaculture.

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In 2018, the three countries signed a government-to-government agreement with the provincial government of British Columbia to develop a transition plan for 17 fish farms operated by MOWI Canada West (formerly Sea Harvest Canada) and Cermac Canada. But not only. A First Nations-led monitoring and inspection program was established to oversee fish farm operations and monitor sea lice infestations on fish farms during the transition process.

In the last three years, ten farms have been decommissioned and the future of seven more farms will be decided by the end of this year. But First Nations have long called for action to protect wild salmon that have already declined over the past century due to years of logging, stream destruction, agriculture, pollution and industrial activity.

Source:Pacific Fisheries Conservation Council

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