Morton, A., R. Routledge, and M. Krkosek. 2008. Sea louse infestation in wild juvenile salmon and Pacific herring associated with fish farms off the east-central coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. North American Journal of
Fisheries Management. Published online March 31, 2008.
Reports of infestations of sea lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis and Caligus clemensi in juvenile salmonids in Pacific Canada have been restricted to pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha and chum salmon O. keta from one salmon-farming region, the Broughton Archipelago of British Columbia. Here, we report on 2 years of sea louse field surveys of wild juvenile pink and chum salmon, as well as wild sockeye salmon O. nerka and larval Pacific herring Clupea pallasii, in another salmon farming region, the Discovery Islands region of British Columbia. For pink and chum salmon we tested for the dependency of sea louse abundance on temperature, salinity, sampling period, host species, and farm exposure category. For both louse species, farm exposure was the only consistently significant predictor of sea lice abundance. Fish exposed to salmon farms were infected with more sea lice than those in the peripheral category. Sea louse abundance on sockeye salmon and Pacific herring followed the same trends, but sample sizes were too low to support formal statistical analysis. The Pacific herring were translucent and lacked scales, and they were primarily parasitized by C. clemensi. These results suggest that the association of salmon farms with sea lice infestations of wild juvenile fish in Pacific Canada now extends beyond juvenile pink and chum salmon in the Broughton Archipelago. Canada's most abundant and economically valuable salmon populations, as well as British Columbia's most valuable Pacific herring stock, migrate through the Discovery Islands; hence, parasite transmission from farm to wild fish in this region may have important economic and ecological implications.