Friday, December 14, 2007

Fish farms endanger wild salmon off Canada coast

Fish farms are bringing nearby wild salmon populations dangerously close to extinction, according to a new study published in today's issue of the journal Science. It found that the farms bring young wild salmon into contact with parasitic sea lice and that could mean a 99 percent collapse in some populations over the next four years.

The study used data from the Broughton Archipelago, a group of islands about 260 miles northwest of Vancouver. Here, young salmon must travel past miles of fish farms to reach the sea. Along the way, they pick up the sea lice. Adult salmon can handle the parasite in small amounts, but the thin-skinned young are especially vulnerable.

“If nothing changes, we are going to lose these fish,” lead author Martin Krkosek, a fisheries ecologist from the University of Alberta, said in a news release. “Salmon farming breaks a natural law,” said co-author Alexandra Morton, director of the Salmon Coast Field Station, located in the Broughton. To read the full report, go here.

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