Sea lice from fish farms infect wild juvenile salmon in multiple regions

New peer-reviewed scientific paper describes the implications for salmon conservation

Sidney, B.C. – Today, the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences published findings by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and other researchers on sea lice infestations of wild juvenile salmon near salmon farms.  The article, Evidence of farm-induced parasite infestations on wild juvenile salmon in multiple regions of coastal British Columbia, Canada, suggests that salmon farms in multiple regions elevate levels of sea lice on wild juvenile salmon.

Salmon farms in areas beyond the Broughton Archipelago are elevating levels of sea lice on wild juvenile pink and chum salmon. “Our results support the hypothesis that salmon farms are a major source of sea lice on juvenile wild salmon in multiple salmon farming regions in BC”, said lead author Michael Price, “and underscore the importance of minimizing known threats to vulnerable wild stocks”.

Levels of sea lice infecting wild juvenile pink and chum salmon were significantly higher near salmon farms in all salmon farm regions compared to areas away from farms, and lice levels were highest among the Discovery Islands where the largest amount of farm salmon was produced.

“The Discovery Islands is a region of high conservation concern given that 1/3 of BC’s juvenile salmon migrate through the region on route to the open ocean”, said co-author Alexandra Morton. “This includes Canada’s crown jewel of salmon systems, the Fraser River”.

Threats from salmon farms to wild salmon can be easily mitigated by removing farms from juvenile salmon migration routes, and switching to closed-containment aquaculture.

Evidence of farm-induced parasite infestations on wild juvenile salmon in multiple regions of coastal British Columbia, Canada. list of authors:

Michael H.H. Price1,2, Alexandra Morton3, John D. Reynolds4

1 Department of Biology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W-3N5
2 Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Sidney, BC, Canada V8L-3Y3
3 Salmon Coast Field Station, Simoom Sound, BC, Canada V0P-1S0
4 Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A-1S6

About Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Raincoast (www.raincoast.org) is a team of conservationists and scientists empowered by our research to protect the lands, waters, and wildlife of coastal British Columbia. Raincoast is a not-for-profit research and public education organization. Our mandate: Investigate, Inform, Inspire. We employ a unique ‘informed advocacy’ approach that combines rigorous science, applied ethics, and grassroots activism.

About the Publisher

Canadian Science Publishing, a not-for-profit company (operating under the brand NRC Research Press http://nrcresearchpress.com), is the foremost scientific publisher in Canada and one of the most advanced electronic publishing services in the world. With over 50 highly skilled experts and an editorial staff comprising some of the world’s leading researchers, NRC Research Press (Canadian Science Publishing) communicates
scientific discoveries to over 100 countries, and publishes 15 journals, with more than 2000 manuscripts each year, in all scientific disciplines. All journals are available online full-text and are accessible before print publication.


The authors of the study are not affiliated with or employed by the National Research Council of Canada. The views of the authors in no way reflect the opinions of the National Research Council of Canada. Requests for commentary about the contents of the study should be directed to the authors. The NRC Research Press is operating under the new name of Canadian Science Publishing, a not-for-profit company, and is no longer affiliated with the National Research Council Canada. Articles published by Canadian Science Publishing are peer-reviewed by experts in their field.

For more information contact:

Michael Price
Raincoast Conservation Foundation


Alexandra Morton
Salmon Coast Field Station

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