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The effect of anti-sea lice drugs and pesticides on marine benthic species


A greater understanding of how chemicals affect marine habitat is essential to supporting the protection of Canada's coastal waters. This extends to increasing our knowledge of the potential impact of chemicals in products used by the salmon aquaculture industry. Farmed salmon is Canada’s third-largest seafood export by value, and is a significant economic contributor to coastal and rural communities on the east and west coasts. Like other salmon producing countries, Canada’s salmon aquaculture industry relies on the strategic use of chemotherapeuticFootnote 1 treatments (drugs and pesticides) to control parasitic sea lice. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has previously funded research on salmon farming, especially with respect to the interactions of aquaculture operations with the marine environment and is interested in improving our understanding of the possible effects of chemotherapeutants on non-target organisms.

Gaps in data have made it difficult to predict the persistence and toxicity of these chemicals, and the potential risks to non-target organisms. This research will examine the lethal and sublethal toxicity of four anti-parasitic chemicalsFootnote 2 on non-target, benthic (bottom-dwelling) marine organisms including crustaceans, annelids (segmented worms), and fish. Sublethal effects may include potential impacts on the development, growth, physiology, and behaviors of non-target organisms. The experiments will incorporate exposure through both water and sediment under short- and long-term exposure time frames, to determine the toxicity of these chemicals to the potentially most susceptible groups of organisms. The findings will be used to help assess the environment consequences of using sea lice chemotherapeutants, and to inform the safe use and appropriate regulation of these chemicals in Canada.

Program Name

National Contaminants Advisory Group (NCAG)


2017 – 2020


Pacific Coast: Strait of Georgia, Southern Shelf, Northern Shelf

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Chris Kennedy
Professor, Aquatic Toxicology, Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University

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