Letters to the Editor

The science on salmon farming is clear

Re: Donnelly confident fish farm bill will succeed (NewsLeader, May 27)

The assertion that sea lice from fish farms is considered a risk because of just one, or even a few, papers from the University of Alberta in the mid-2000s is absurd and should never have been printed un-checked. More than a decade of peer reviewed articles (articles that passed a panel of scientists before being printed) from researchers around the world document the risks and impacts of interactions between farmed fish, sea lice and wild fish. Even if the absolute details of the scale and severity of the impact on a stock-by-stock basis have not been fully agreed to, there is broad agreement that these risks are real.

Right now, the Eastern Canadian, Scottish and Norwegian fish-farming industries are facing problematic sea lice outbreaks. The Norwegian government last year implemented an emergency lice limit at least five times more stringent than the level in B.C., with the express purpose of protecting juvenile wild salmon. Even with that, lice are developing resistance to the chemicals used to kill them, and pesticide-based controls may not work for long. It makes no ecological or economic sense to base an industry on the continuous need to develop and use toxic chemicals in a system that is open to the surrounding waters. People who build and operate closed containment systems invest in containing and dealing with their own wastes and the risks from things like sea lice and diseases, instead of letting the environment try to clean up after them. They deserve our support.

Jay Ritchlin

Director, Marine and Freshwater Conservation

David Suzuki Foundation

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