Canadian Aquaculture Industry Calls for Balanced Scientific Dialogue



    OTTAWA, Sept. 21 /CNW/ - The group of scientists who wrote to the Prime
Minister indicating that sea lice from farmed salmon endanger wild salmon
stocks unfairly expressed only one side of the story, according to Ruth
Salmon, Executive Director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.
    "While there are some studies that may support the view of these
scientists, there are many other scientific studies that suggest that salmon
farms in BC make little contribution to the sea lice levels that naturally
occur on wild salmon," says Ruth Salmon, "For example, one recent study found
that wild salmon in an area where there were no farms had as many sea lice as
wild salmon in BC's Broughton Archipelago where farming occurs."
    "And another recent study found exceptionally high returns of pink salmon
in an area containing 16 active salmon farms - and concluded that pink salmon
populations and farmed Atlantic salmon could coexist successfully," states
Salmon.
    After reviewing the current scientific research on the interactions
between salmon and sea lice, Dr. Kenneth Brooks, Senior scientist with Aquatic
Environmental Sciences, stated "To date, no direct 'cause and effect'
relationship between sea lice, salmon farms and wild salmon in British
Columbia has been identified by scientists who have studied the issue."
    One thing that scientists do agree upon is that wild salmon carrying sea
lice can infect other wild salmon. In fact, this is an essential part of the
natural life cycle of sea lice. This finding has led many scientists to
conclude that new infections of wild stocks originate primarily from other
previously infected wild stocks - rather than from farms.
    "Since juvenile farmed salmon are free from sea lice when introduced into
the marine environment, it looks like the sea lice are actually coming from
the wild fish onto farmed fish," says Dr. Jim Brackett, President of Aquatic
Life Sciences.
    It therefore remains debatable whether the transfer of sea lice from the
farmed salmon to the wild salmon could be on a sufficient scale to have an
impact. "Because the wild fish naturally carry sea lice, we don't know whether
there is a sufficient enough transfer of lice from farm fish to wild fish to
make an impact on the natural levels of infection," says Dr. Kevin
Butterworth, Director of Marine Research, BC Centre for Aquatic Health
Sciences, "If there is not a significant transfer of sea lice, then this whole
issue is a moot point."
    With the lack of a scientific consensus on this issue, the Canadian
Aquaculture Industry Alliance believes that it is time for all stakeholders to
engage in constructive dialogue to define environmentally, socially, and
economically sustainable salmon farming methods that measurably reduce or
eliminate key impacts of salmon farming. The World Wildlife Fund sponsored
Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue is one forum where this type of stakeholder
dialogue is occurring. Currently, over half of global farmed salmon production
is represented at the Dialogue - together with environmental NGOs and
researchers from every major salmon producing nation.
    "A key feature of such stakeholder dialogues is that they recognize that
existing science provides conflicting information related to the impacts of
salmon aquaculture," says Ruth Salmon, "And rather than fostering disagreement
between scientists, they focus on these areas of uncertainty - and then
support scientific research to help resolve this uncertainty."
    This spirit of cooperation being shown by many scientists, environmental
NGOs and industry members emphasizes that the time for debate is over. Now is
the time for all stakeholders to join in constructive dialogue that will allow
a vibrant aquaculture industry for the benefit of Canada's coastal communities
- and provide support for the ongoing efforts to protect wild salmon stocks.




For further information:

For further information: Ruth Salmon, Executive Director, Canadian
Aquaculture Industry Alliance, BC Phone: (250) 951-9866, Cell Phone: (250)
701-1431, Email: ruth.salmon@aquaculture.ca

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Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA)

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