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An investigation of the relationship between environmental parameters, oceanographic zones of influence and the prevalence of parasitic copepods (sea lice) on Three-Spine Stickleback in Bay D'Espoir Newfoundland with specific reference to salmonid aquaculture sites



Salmonid farming in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) has expanded rapidly over the past decade. Concurrently, the occurrences of sea lice infestation on farmed salmon are increasing in some bays (Bay D'Espoir and Fortune Bay). It has been suggested that non-salmonid species could act as sea lice reservoirs for future infections and/or could act as predictors for infection rates in wild and farmed fish in subsequent years. Despite this, very little information is available on the interaction of wild, non-salmonid fish species at aquaculture sites and sea lice outbreaks at these sites. Based on the results of a 2013 pilot study (NL-13-01-001) in Bay D'Espoir, NL, three-spine stickleback were found to be the most prevalent wild fish species around aquaculture sites, and gill lice were the most abundant species of sea lice observed. Gill lice appear to be capable of completing their life cycle on three-spine stickleback; however, the extent of its impact on farmed salmonids in NL has not been characterized.

This project will investigate the potential correlation between the distribution of gill lice and other parasitic sea lice on three-spine stickleback and farmed salmonids in the Bay D'Espoir region. The results of this research will help provide information on the potential of wild non-salmonid fish species to act as sea lice reservoirs (with the potential to re-infect farmed fish), as well as a potential predictor of infestation levels in Bay Management Areas.

This project supports the optimal fish health objective of the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), and pertains to the 2014-15 national ACRDP priority to examine wild-farmed interactions through increasing the understanding of the interactions between farmed finfish species and wild species.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2014 - 2016


Atlantic: Newfoundland, Labrador Shelves

Principal Investigator(s)

Harry Murray

Collaborative Partner(s)

Cold Ocean Salmon Inc.

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