BC farmers explore cleaner fish role

THE British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) is investing nearly CAD 420,000 in seven research projects involving more than 30 researchers.
The projects aim to help bridge knowledge gaps on BC’s wild marine species – particularly salmon stocks – and coastal environment.
One project will explore the potential of local species as cleaner fish, the first research in BC into this method of pest control.
The results are expected to determine if kelp perch or pile perch are effective in picking sea lice from salmon – an alternative method for managing sea lice in salmon culture.
The BCSFA research-funding programme, open to all research organisations, is managed by a third-party Science Advisory Council (SAC) comprised of members from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Island University, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Salmon Foundation, and Vancouver Aquarium, as well as industry experts.
Other projects include using acoustic tag tracking technology to follow migration routes and rates of juvenile sockeye, coho and Chinook salmon, and the survival of tagged fish through the Strait of Georgia, and the Discovery Islands area.
Another project seeks to gain a better understanding of the aquatic environment around salmon farms, and how wild marine species interact with the habitats that are created by the presence of a salmon farm.
‘As active members of the coastal community, salmon farmers are committed to ensuring long-term sustainability of the sector, the ocean environment, and wild marine species,’ said Jeremy Dunn, the association’s executive director.
‘While there is still much to learn about wild salmon migration, life cycles and how they are adapting to our changing climate, funding these important projects is a step towards ensuring the best researchers are doing quality science in an objective and transparent manner.’
Dr Don Noakes, SAC chair and dean of Science at Vancouver Island University, said: ‘This investment will improve our understanding of BC’s coastal environment, particularly in terms of wild and farm-raised salmon interactions.
‘The goal is to ensure future generations can enjoy the economic, social and cultural benefits that both wild and farm-raised salmon provide.’