A sockeye salmon tries to jump a fish fence at the mouth of the Fulton River on Lake Babine.

Study joins fish farms, NGOs

A study into how sea lice infect wild B.C. salmon aims to get better research results having both fish farmers and NGOs on board.

A scientist leading a study into how sea lice infect wild B.C. salmon says he is hopeful that a project co-funded by fish farmers and NGOs can overcome the “your data versus my data” battles that so often cloud the issue.

Dr. Crawford Revie, an epidemiologist at the University of Prince Edward Island, said the Broughton Archipelago Monitoring Plan (BAMP) is the only sea lice study that brings together B.C. fish farmers and environmental groups.

As a research scientist, Dr. Revie said heading the project has been a bit of a challenge.

“I’m not really a diplomat,” he said, laughing. “I probably spend nearly half my time making sure that nobody’s feathers are ruffled too much.”

Over five years, BAMP researchers will track how many pink and chum salmon get infected by sea lice as they migrate through the Broughton Archipelago—an island group in the Haida Gwaii that is home to 15 salmon farms. Four times a year, the researchers drop seine nets at about 100 sites in the island chain and observe how infected salmon are in each catch.

The project is co-funded by three of B.C.’s largest farmed salmon producers and the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform—a group of four environmental organizations that includes the David Suzuki Foundation.

“Ultimately, I hope it leads to light as well as heat,” said Dr. Revie.

Fish farming has been a heated, bumper-sticker issue in B.C. for more than a decade.

In 2007, a research paper published in Science concluded that 99 per cent of the pink salmon in northern B.C. waters will go extinct if sea lice outbreaks continue. Other studies have refuted such findings, concluding that the real threat lies in ocean conditions.

Dr. Revie is a veteran of fish-farming debates in other countries with active salmon fisheries.

The controversy came up in his native Scotland, although he said it never got so heated there as it has here in B.C.

“Our wild stocks are not nearly as vibrant, unfortunately, as they still are in British Columbia,” he explained.

In Norway, where salmon stocks are stronger, Dr. Revie said the controversy was closer to the B.C. experience.

More than the research, Dr. Revie said the hardest work on the sea lice issue is to actually have both sides sit down and hear what the other is saying.

“I think it’s worth it,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll eventually get to better solutions rather than constantly having debates.”

Preliminary data from the 2011 BAMP studies have been posted at www.bamp.ca. The first paper from the project is expected to be published sometime in 2012.





Just Posted

U.S. consulate general to visit Northwest

Trip part of the region’s first-ever pop-up consul for American residents

Houston Flyers bring home bronze

The Houston Flyers peewees were off to Smithers last weekend and came… Continue reading

New Cottonwood Manor units nearly ready

Sixteen units replace ones condemned several years ago

Houston celebrates International Womens Day

International Women’s Day March 7 was celebrated by 102 registered guests who… Continue reading

Houston’s woman of the year

International Woman of the year event was held last Thursday in Houston.… Continue reading

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Pro-Trump protest sign with F-word is OK, court rules

Judges say Ontario man can protest publicly, even using vulgar language

VIDEO: Police officer looking for distracted drivers gets hit by truck

Road safety investigator clipped by trailer while patrolling busy intersection

YVR wants you to help name three new puppies

Say hello to the Vancouver Airport’s new assistance pups

Suspect who attacked autistic man in Ontario could be from B.C.’s south coast: police

29-year-old man was sent to hospital with serious injuries

Privacy watchdog to explore Facebook leak

Canadian expert says his analytics company helped Trump campaign capitalize on private Facebook info

Woman struck and killed by self-driving Uber vehicle

Ride-hailing company suspends all road-testing of such vehicles in U.S. and Canada

Spring snow melt uncovers dirty needles in B.C. city

Vernon residents are upset with number of needles being found around town with spring melt

Most Read