Cohen to hear whether sea lice are impacting Fraser sockeye

Media Release:  September 2, 2011

Sidney, B.C. – A scientist with Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the University of Victoria, Michael Price, is scheduled to testify at the Cohen Commission of Inquiry Tuesday, September 6, based on a recent study that showed the first link between salmon farms and elevated levels of sea lice on juvenile Fraser River sockeye salmon.

The article published in February by PLoS ONE titled, Sea Louse Infection of Juvenile Sockeye Salmon in Relation to Marine Salmon Farms on Canada’s West Coast, genetically identified 30 distinct stocks of infected Fraser sockeye that pass by open net-pen salmon farms in the Strait of Georgia, including the endangered Cultus Lake stock. The study found that parasitism of Fraser sockeye increased significantly after the juvenile fish passed by fish farms. These same species of lice were found in substantial numbers on the salmon farms.

Not only did juvenile Fraser sockeye host higher lice levels in the Georgia Strait after they passed salmon farms, these fish hosted an order of magnitude more sea lice than Skeena and Nass River sockeye that migrated along the north coast where there are no farms.

Michael Price, the lead author of the study, will be joined by 3 other researchers on a panel to discuss the threat of sea lice to juvenile Fraser River sockeye salmon.

“The implications of these infections are not fully clear, but in addition to any direct physical and behavioural impacts on juvenile sockeye, sea lice may also serve as vectors of disease or indicators of other farm-origin pathogens,” said Price.

Raincoast Conservation Foundation and other researchers also recently published an article in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences titled, Evidence of farm-induced parasite infestations on wild juvenile salmon in multiple regions of coastal British Columbia, Canada, which suggests that salmon farms in multiple regions elevate levels of sea lice on wild juvenile pink and chum salmon.

Cohen Commission hearings are open to the public and will be held from 10 am to 12:30 pm, and 2-4 pm at the Federal Court at 701 West Georgia Street, 8th floor, Vancouver.

For more information contact:

Michael Price

Raincoast Conservation Foundation (



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