Fish farm parasite could destroy wild pink in decade
Wild pink salmon in B.C.’s Broughton Archipelago face extinction in the next 10 years due to parasitic sea lice found in fish farms, according to a report published in the journal Science today.
The joint study conducted by the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University and Echo Bay’s Salmon Coast Field Station found that if sea lice population growth continues at its current rate, 99 per cent of pink salmon could be wiped out within four generations.
Lead author Mark Krkosek of the University of Alberta said that urgent action is required to prevent total population collapse.
"These fish are only about an inch long. They don’t have any protective scales and all it takes is one or two lice to kill them," he said referring to salmon fry.
Krkosek added that spending another 10 years collecting more data is not an option because the fish will be "long gone."
The David Suzuki Foundation quickly released a statement demanding action from the provincial and federal governments.
"In light of these results, it is clear that governments must take immediate precautionary action to stop open net-cage salmon farming from harming wild salmon," it said.
Sea lice kill salmon by attaching themselves to their exterior and feeding on surface tissues such as skin and muscle.