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Research Document - 2015/004

Population ecology and epidemiology of sea lice in Canadian waters

By S. Saksida, I. Bricknell, S. Robinson and S. Jones


Sea lice are found on farmed and wild fish on both the west coast and east coast of Canada. The predominant species on both coasts is referred to as Lepeophtheirus salmonisbut indications are that the two groups are genetically different. Caligus species are also found on both coasts, these too are different species: Caligus clemensi and C. elongatus, respectively. There has been extensive work on sea lice on both wild and farmed fish over the last decade. Research indicates that L. salmonis, commonly referred to as the salmon louse; may have a broader host range than commonly thought, infecting species such as the three-spine stickleback. The role of farmed salmon, particularly farmed Atlantic Salmon, as potential reservoirs of L. salmonis is accepted. What is still debated is the effect of sea lice infections on wild salmon populations, and whether the establishment of farm level treatment thresholds is the most appropriate method to manage the situation. There is indication that various Pacific salmon species have different tolerances to both L. salmonis and C. clemensi and the role of other non-salmon species in the ecology and epidemiology of sea lice still needs to be better researched. Published work on sea lice on farmed salmon on the East Coast is more limited; research on wild Atlantic Salmon even more so. This Research Document was presented and reviewed as part of the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) National peer-review meeting, Sea Lice Monitoring and Non-Chemical Measures, held in Ottawa, Ontario, September 25-27, 2012. The objective of this peer-review meeting was to assess the state of knowledge and provide scientific advice on sea lice management measures, monitoring and interactions between cultured and wild fish.

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