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It's not an appetizing thought, but it is becoming increasingly likely that infestations of sea lice originating from fish farms may be killing young wild pink and chum salmon in BC

It's not an appetizing thought, but it is becoming increasingly likely that infestations of sea lice originating from fish farms may be killing young wild pink and chum salmon in BC.

A study conducted by two researchers from Simon Fraser University, Rick Routledge and Alexandra Morton, showed that dying young wild salmon were infested with twice the sea lice of healthy fish (The North American Journal of Fisheries Management, August 2005).

The researchers believe that the juvenile pink and chum salmon became infested with the sea lice on their way from spawning grounds out to sea. The young wild fish passed the overcrowded and numerous fish farms operating in the Broughton Archipelago where infestations of sea lice are commonly found. Crowded fish farms "are an ideal breeding ground for fish lice," said Routledge.

The young fish provide evidence that sea lice not only kill adult salmon; they also kill and deplete the younger populations and endanger the health of wild fish stocks in BC waters.

Sea lice aren't the only concern with farmed fish. A global assessment reported in Science Magazine (January 9, 2004) found that farmed salmon has significantly higher levels of toxic organochlorine contaminants than wild salmon.

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