A new UC Davis study contradicts earlier reports that salmon farms were responsible for the 2002 population crash of wild pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago of western Canada.
The Broughton crash has become a rallying event for people concerned about the potential environmental effects of open-net salmon farming, which has become a $10 billion industry worldwide, producing nearly 1.5 million tons of fish annually.
The new study, to be published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, does not determine what caused the crash, but it acquits the prime suspect: small skin parasites called sea lice.
The study's lead author is Gary Marty, a veterinary pathologist and research associate at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. An expert in fish diseases, Marty has been studying the health of pink salmon since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
"No significant effect on wild salmon"
"For anybody concerned about the effect of farm salmon on wild salmon, this is good news," Marty said. "Sea lice from fish farms have no significant effect on wild salmon population productivity."
source: University of California, Davis, News Service