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A survey of the seasonal abundance, prevalence and species diversity of sea lice on non-salmonid marine finfish species from Bay D’Espoir Newfoundland and Labrador with specific reference to areas neighboring Atlantic Salmon cage sites



The sea louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis and Caligus elongatus) is known to significantly impact farmed salmonids (salmon) worldwide. There is growing concern that sea lice populations may be further amplified and transmitted through the presence of intermediate hosts near salmon farms. It has been suggested that non-salmonid species could be acting as sea lice reservoirs for future infections and/or could act as predictors for infection rates in wild and farmed fish in subsequent years. Atlantic Salmon aquaculture in the Coast of Bays region of Newfoundland and Labrador has rapidly expanded, but very little is known on the basic ecology and seasonal cycles of sea lice within the bays. However, many species of marine fish are known to frequent the areas around cage sites, which could be contributing to sea lice infections.

This research project will survey and determine the importance of wild non-salmonids as hosts for sea lice species on the south coast of the island of Newfoundland. Depending on the presence of host species, researchers will also look for correlations between the occurrences of sea lice on non-salmonid species and those present on farmed Atlantic Salmon within the Bay D’Espoir. Results from this study will help improve the fish health management of salmon farming in Newfoundland and Labrador by developing a greater understanding of sea lice ecology in the region. Increased understanding of the dynamics of sea lice and the knowledge gained in this study will help to better predict outbreaks, determine the need for treatment and provide information to help manage this aquaculture pest. This will ultimately improve the sustainability of the aquaculture industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This project supports the optimal fish health management objective of the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), pertaining to the 2013-14 national ACRDP priority to manage and control pests and pathogens through the understanding of how pests and pathogens can affect the environment and cultured species, and how to manage their impact.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2013 - 2014


Atlantic: Newfoundland, Labrador Shelves

Principal Investigator(s)

Harry Murray

Collaborative Partner(s)

Cold Ocean Salmon Inc.

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