Morton, A., Routledge, R., McConnell, A., Krkosek, M. 2011. Sea lice dispersion and salmon survival in relation to salmon farm activity in the Broughton Archipelago. ICES Journal of Marine
Science. 68 pp 144-156
The risk of salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) transmission to wild juvenile Pacific salmon has spurred management change to reduce lice on salmon farms. We studied the abundance of planktonic lice preceding the juvenile salmon outmigration as well as the abundance of lice on juvenile pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and chum (Oncorhynchus keta) salmon in two distinct migration routes, one containing only fallow farms and the other active farms that applied a parasiticide. Results indicate that fallowing reduces the abundance and flattens the spatial distribution of lice relative to that expected in areas without farms. Active farms remained the primary source of lice, but transmission was reduced 100-fold relative to previous epizootics in the study area. On the migration route containing active farms,∼50% of the juvenile salmon showed evidence of louse damage to surface tissues and the estimated direct louse-induced mortality was <10%, not including indirect effects of infection on predation risk or competition. The survival of the pink salmon cohort was not statistically different from a reference region without salmon farms. Although repeated use of a single parasiticide can lead to resistance, reducing louse transmission from farmed salmon may help conserve some wild Pacific salmon populations.