Salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago should treat caged salmon with pesticides to control sea lice in advance of the migration of juvenile pink salmon, according to researches at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society and University of Alberta.
Salmon farms in B.C. are coming under greater scrutiny following the recent recommendations of the Cohen Commission, which recommended a freeze on new salmon farm licences in the Discovery Islands as a precautionary measure, until it can be determined whether farmed salmon are passing diseases onto wild salmon.
"Our study adds to an increasing weight of evidence detailing the threats open-net salmon aquaculture poses to wild fish," said Stan Proboszcz, a fisheries biologist with Watershed Watch Salmon Society.
"In light of our study and the recent Sockeye Inquiry Final Report, government should act immediately to eliminate the risks associated with salmon farming."
The new study, published in the journal Ecological, recommends the use of a pesticide called Slice well in advance of the migration of Broughton Archipelago pinks every two years.
Currently, the use of Slice is only required when the average number of sea lice on penned salmon reach three per fish between March and June, the researchers said.
"Government regulators should take note of this independent research and consider adjusting sea lice management regulations accordingly," said Stephanie Peacock, a marine biology PhD candidate at University of Alberta.
"Although our study highlights a potential beneficial farm management strategy for sea lice, at best it's only a band-aid solution due to the risks and limitations associated with pesticides like Slice," said Craig Orr, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society.