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Incorporating the Natural Cycles of Sea Lice (L. salmonis) Production into a Management Strategy for Sustainable Aquaculture



In British Columbia (BC), salmonid aquaculture includes the rearing of domesticated strains of chinook, coho and Atlantic salmon. Although sea lice have been observed on farmed salmon in BC, the level of loading and the resulting health impacts on the farms have not mirrored those seen in salmon raised in the Atlantic Ocean. Large numbers of mature and maturing sea lice are transported from the open ocean by adult wild Pacific salmon that are returning to spawning areas in coastal rivers. These sea lice reproduce and the resulting copepodids are available to infect wild juvenile Pacific salmon that are in the same areas. It is this period of abundance of adult salmon that is proposed to be a major source of sea lice to this area. In this study, we propose to identify the sources and cycles of natural sea lice production. We would relate these natural cycles to the development of sea lice on salmon in net pens. It is expected that an understanding of the natural cycles of sea lice production will facilitate effective stewardship of sea lice development on fish reared in net pens. Developing a protocol to manage sea lice levels on fish farms based on the natural cycles of production will provide a basis for sustainable aquaculture in BC.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2004 - 2006


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Robert Beamish

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