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The environmental effects of anti-sea lice pesticides on marine zooplankton


Sea lice pose a significant problem for salmon aquaculture in Canada and around the world. Controlling these parasites is essential to protecting the health of farmed fish, as well as preventing the transfer of sea lice to wild salmon stocks. One way to control these parasites is by treating salmon with chemotherapeutantsFootnote 1 in bath treatments after which the solution is released into the ocean. Although the products quickly disperse and dilute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is interested in understanding if environmental conditions exist where concentrations of these products adversely affect non-target organisms. One concern is the potential toxicity of these products to planktonic organisms, particularly zooplankton species, which play a key role in marine food web dynamics, biogeochemical cycling, and fish recruitmentFootnote 2. Information about the lethal and sublethal impacts associated with short-term exposure under environmentally realistic concentrations is available for only a few zooplankton species that inhabit the coastal waters of Eastern Canada and the marine waters of Europe.

This research examines the impacts of two chemical therapeutants (Salmosan® and Paramove 50®) on zooplankton species that are likely to be sensitive to them. Building on previous studies, this research will examine the lethal and sublethal toxicity of these products to wild Pacific zooplankton species, including crustacean larvae, herring larvae, and copepods, under realistic exposure concentrations and time frames. Sublethal effects that will be explored include potential impacts on the growth, development, and reproduction of a marine copepod species. The data generated by this research is essential for accurately assessing the impacts of these products on non-target organisms, thereby informing the proper and safe use, and appropriate regulation of these aquaculture 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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