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A large group of salmon swimming upstream

Juvenile Salmon Ecology Projects

The depletion of marine fisheries has been an impetus to expand seafood production through aquaculture. In BC, salmon farming has grown in response to a decline in wild salmon and global marketing that promotes year-round consumption of farmed salmon, leading to more complications for wild salmon.

Aquaculture has grown considerably in 20 years and 111 salmon farms now inhabit BC’s most protected bays and coves.

Raincoast’s concerns over salmon farms stem from the documented and suspected threats to wild salmon, from sea lice infestations (which concentrate on farms and spread to wild juvenile salmon), and disease transfer from farmed to wild salmon.

Raincoast’s past work: Sea lice, wild salmon, and salmon farms

sea lice on juvenile pinksThis field and laboratory research examined the extent of sea lice infections on wild juvenile pink and chum salmon in the Bella Bella region of the BC central coast (an area without fish farms) and compared these findings with the intensity of sea lice infections in areas that contain fish farms (Klemtu, Broughton Archipelago, and northern Georgia Strait).


Results showed that sea lice levels increased in concert with farmed salmon production. In the North, juvenile wild salmon hosted low lice levels at sites far from fish farms and elevated levels near fish farms. Lice levels were highest among the northern Georgia Strait, which is home to a staggering 32 salmon farms.

Results from this study were published in the following papers:

Price, M.H.H., A. Morton and J.D. Reynolds. 2010. Evidence of farm-induced parasite infestations on wild juvenile salmon in multiple regions of coastal British Columbia, Canada. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 67: 1925-1932. (PDF)

Price, M.H.H. and J.D. Reynolds. 2012. Salmon farms as a source of sea lice on juvenile wild salmon; reply to the comment by Jones and Beamish. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 69:1-4. (PDF)

Fraser Sockeye Early Marine Ecology ProjectUW sockeye -small

Fraser sockeye comprise Canada’s largest and most lucrative salmon runs.  Our objective was to ascertain if, and if so to what degree, salmon farms situated along the Georgia Strait migration route of juvenile sockeye might impair their health.  2009 was the lowest return of Fraser sockeye salmon ever recorded, despite favourable ocean conditions and an exceptionally large out-migration of fry from 2007.  Our research on the 2007 outbound juvenile sockeye raises concerns that salmon farms enhance parasitic infections on sockeye smolts.

Results from this study were published in the following paper:

Price, M.H.H., S.L. Proboszcz, R.D. Routledge, A.S. Gottesfeld, C. Orr and J.D. Reynolds. 2011. Sea louse infection of juvenile Sockeye salmon in relation to marine salmon farms on Canada’s west coast. PLoS ONE 6(2):1-9. (PDF)