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Environmental fate and effects of sea lice pesticides used in Canadian salmon aquaculture


The environmental quality of coastal waters and estuaries is a priority for Canadians, and where there may be concerns, an improved understanding of chemical impacts on near-shore ecosystems is essential to the responsible management of Canada's coastal areas. In recent years, Canadian aquaculture has become a billion dollar a year industry and the fourth-largest producer of farmed salmon in the world, however, this industry's use of anti-sea lice compounds has drawn interest to the potential for impacts to local net pen environments. Sea lice are naturally occurring ecto-parasites of fish and if not controlled, can be a significant problem in salmonid aquaculture. Strategic chemotherapeutant treatments for sea lice control are essential to finfish production in intensive aquaculture. The types of products available for use and prescribed treatment protocols are tightly regulated in Canada; only chemotherapeutants registered by Health Canada can be used and mandatory label conditions are provided for the protection of aquatic life. Health Canada regulates chemotherapeutants used in the aquaculture industry, which are considered either a drug (if administered in feed or by injection) or a pesticide (if administered topically or in a water bath).

In some cases, predictions of chemotherapeutant exposure, persistence and toxicity have proven challenging hence research to address data gaps will increase confidence in risk evaluations. This proposal specifically addresses information gaps that need to be filled in order for proper assessments of the environmental consequences of sea lice pesticide use in Canada to be made. This proposal describes scientific studies on the persistence, acute and sublethal toxicity of these chemicals to representative marine organisms with a focus on the Pacific region. The data obtained from the proposed research is required to ensure the proper and safe use, and appropriate regulation of these aquaculture chemicals in Canada.

Program Name

National Contaminants Advisory Group (NCAG)


2014 - 2017


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Chris Kennedy
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia

Team Member(s)

Francis Law, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia

Collaborative Partner(s)

Marine Harvest Canada, British Columbia

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