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Health of juvenile salmon during early seawater residency and migration past salmon farms



Recently, reports have suggested that poor returns of salmon in BC are caused by infections of juvenile salmon with sea lice and other pathogens acquired from salmon farms. There are few data that allow us to understand how and when sea lice infections develop on juvenile salmonids following entry into sea water. In addition, there have been no systematic studies of the overall health of juvenile salmon during their early seawater residency. Without this information it is impossible to predict what, if any, role salmon farms play as a source of sea lice or other pathogens for infection of juvenile wild fish. This project builds upon ongoing collaborative programs between Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the aquaculture industry, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation, that are studying several aspects of juvenile salmon health in B.C. The overall goals of these programs are to provide the background data necessary to asses what role, if any, salmon farms play as a source of pathogens for wild juvenile salmon. Within the Strait of Georgia and Johnstone Strait, development of sea lice infections on juvenile pink salmon, chum salmon and non-salmonid hosts, will be investigated and characterized, yearly for a period of 3 years starting in 2010. Levels of sea lice will be monitored from early seawater entry until the time that the fish enter Queen Charlotte Sound. For Muchalat and Esperanza Inlets increased sampling effort during sea lice surveys will obtain samples of chum salmon suitable for histological and microbiological analysis starting in 2011.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2010 - 2014


Pacific: Strait of Georgia

Principal Investigator(s)

Stewart Johnson

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