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The effects of anti-sea lice therapeutants on sensitive life stages of non-target species in combination with different stressors


Canada is the fourth-largest producer of farmed salmon in the world. In 2013, Canada’s salmon aquaculture sector had a farm-gate value of $816 million and provided 10,000 jobs. A sustainable salmon aquaculture sector is dependent on its ability to control pests and diseases primarily through the use of drugs and pesticides collectively known as therapeutants. To protect human health and the environment, these products are regulated by Health Canada under the Pest Control Products Act and its regulations. Although scientific assessments and mitigation strategies are implemented to reduce the potential for environmental impacts, there is a need to identify conditions that could expose non-target aquatic species to therapeutants and to understand their possible biological effects. Sublethal effects of exposure in organisms can include changes in physiological processes, growth, reproduction, development and behaviour for example, which can then affect populations depending on the nature and scope of exposure. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is responsible for ensuring that all aquaculture-related activities are safe for wild fish and their habitats. To better understand the potential sub-lethal impacts of therapeutants on non‐target organisms, DFO has committed to establishing a multi‐year science-based process to review and inform monitoring and mitigation actions related to therapeutant use. While past research on the effects of therapeutants focussed greater effort on East Coast species, this timely research will improve our understanding of the sensitivities of Pacific species.

The objective of this research is to assess the effects of aquaculture therapeutants on non-target Pacific species by generating data on the acute and sublethal toxicity to the most sensitive marine organisms (crustaceans, such as the Pandalidae family) under environmentally realistic conditions and multiple stressor scenarios.

The specific research experiments in this proposal will yield information to enhance our knowledge on environmentally safe and responsible use of aquaculture therapeutants, and will inform DFO management decisions for the protection of native Pacific aquatic species.

Program Name

National Contaminants Advisory Group (NCAG)


2015 - 2017



Principal Investigator(s)

Christopher Kennedy
Professor Department Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University (British Columbia)

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