"The work is of an impeccably high standard, and will be very difficult to refute," said Dr. Andy Dobson, an epidemiologist from Princeton University who specializes in wildlife diseases.
The study's implications may be severe for wild salmon. "Even the best case scenario of an additional ten per cent mortality from farm-origin sea lice could push a fish stock into the red zone," said biologist Dr. John Volpe, a study co-author at the University of Victoria.
Although the study was conducted in British Columbia, the results apply globally. "This study really raises the question of whether we can have native salmon and large scale aquaculture ?as it is currently practiced ?in the same place," said Dr. Ransom Myers, a fisheries biologist at Dalhousie University.
"It also raises a more distant specter," said Dobson. "When are we going to see the first human disease caused by aquaculture?"
The research was funded primarily by the National Research Council of Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Further support came from the David Suzuki Foundation, the Canadian Sablefish Association, and the British Columbia Wilderness Tourism Association.
"The analysis in this paper almost certainly underestimates the total mortality of juvenile salmon, " said study co-author Dr. Neil Frazer, a physicist at the University of Hawai'i. "We considered only the direct effects of sea lice on fish survival. We did not include the secondary effects of increased predation on infected fish."
"The debate is over," said study co-author Alexandra Morton, a biologist with the Raincoast Research Society. "This paper brings our understanding of farm-origin sea lice and Pacific wild salmon to the point where w
Source:University of Alberta