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Researchers reveal the infectious impact of salmon farms on wild salmon

cal event establishing the potential for re-infections up and down the coast. As the abundance of lice increases, we are now realizing that lice will attack other species, not only salmon, but other fish such as herring which are the spark plugs of the entire ecosystems ?everything depends on them ?from salmon to whales to seabirds. Every commercially important fish is either directly or indirectly dependent on herring."

"Previous studies have been dismissed by industry, but past studies haven't looked at such large samples or the spatial aspect," says fisheries biologist Ransom Myers of the University of Dalhousie. "This study goes far beyond a theoretical model. They tested the model in the real world, using an enormous data set, and saw the same patterns. It is a very thorough analysis."

"We've tried to be very careful and conservative ?but there is potential for a major impact on the survivorship of the migrating salmon," says Lewis.

"The next step is to thoroughly investigate the degree of impact on wild populations," adds Krkosek.

The authors concur that their findings point to a need to reconsider the premise of industrial scale fish farming in wild salmon habits. "There's a double bottom line here. The full ecological costs of industrial scale salmon farming must be quantified as well as the economic ones," says Volpe. "For the migratory runs we studied, there may be very little time left."


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