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Use of hydro-acoustic methods to assess the migration timing and distribution of juvenile salmon in Discovery Islands and Johnstone Strait



During their migration to the Northern Pacific, juvenile wild salmon from the Strait of Georgia pass through the Discovery Islands and Lower Johnstone Strait, where salmon farming occurs.

This project seeks to assess the risk of disease transfer associated with interactions between wild and farmed salmon in this area by studying wild salmon migratory pathways and the duration of their residency in the vicinity of these fish farms.

In conjunction with traditional survey/sampling methods (including purse seining, beach seining, and trawling) using hydro-acoustics offers a cost-effective way of monitoring fish abundance, behaviours, and distribution for extended and continuous periods of time. This will enable observation and data collection on juvenile wild salmon migration in the area of fish farms, thus gaining insights into potential impacts of wild salmon on farmed salmon and vice versa.

The results of this project will:

  1. Assist in the development of a risk assessment process to investigate the risks of pathogen transfer from farmed to wild salmon, particularly in the Discovery Islands.
  2. Improved our understanding and inform and support the development of evidence-based aquaculture management approaches.
  3. Provide information in addressing critical uncertainties and recommendations as identified in the Cohen Report with respect to:
    1. marine survival in their early marine life;
    2. disease transfer and interactions between wild and farm salmon; and
    3. assessing the cumulative impacts of multiple stressors on Fraser River Sockeye Salmon productivity.
  4. Inform operational decisions and best practices engaged in by the BC salmon aquaculture industry.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2015 - 2017

Principal Investigator(s)

Stéphane Gauthier
Research Scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Institute of Ocean Sciences, Pacific Region

Team Member(s)

Stewart Johnson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, Pacific Region

Marc Trudel, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, Pacific Region

Chrys-Ellen M. Neville, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, Pacific Region

Collaborative Partner(s)

Joanne Liutkus, British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA)

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