Dec 22, 2010

Hmm... Sea lice - An Unworthy Scapegoat?

A fire burns on the coastal waters of British Columbia. Fueled by the sentiments of conservationists and their adversary, "big business" the flame looks to be well stoked. The issue is whether commercial fish pens, in which genetically modified fish are raised by the hands of man, should be aloud to exist in habitat critical to other "Wild" species.

Aquaculture is no stranger to civilization. It is believed that ancient peoples raised eels in Australia in 6000 BC. Furthermore, evidence shows that the Chinese were cultivating carp around 2000 BC, in which genetic mutations finally gave us the Goldfish. It also spread throughout Europe during the middle ages as the costs of transporting fish became too high. Like an ear of corn but with fins I suppose, hewn in water and shopped to dinner tables world-wide, this crop is expanding and has found a home off the coast of Canada in the way of Salmon farms.

The argument against it has, for sometime, relied on habitat destruction. Fecal waste at pen sites pollute surrounding waters killing life on the ocean floor, and decreasing Oxygen levels. Some scientists equate a pen with 200,000 salmon as producing the same waste amounts as a city of 60,000 people. This waste is untreated and it often contains antibiotics and pesticides that helps desecrate vital ecosystems for wild fish prosperity.

Lately the argument against Salmon pens has centered around parasite explosions. Sea lice are a naturally occurring phenomena that grow in the wild and fix themselves to the skin of fish. It's a great program really. Free rent, get to travel and dinner is always served. A salmon is well equipped to handle a few of these little hitchhikers, but studies have shown that young salmon that are fresh to the ocean pick up an inordinate amount as they pass through critical passageways to the open sea. Click here to read up about recent studies highlighting adverse impacts of Sea Lice on wild fish. Also, take the time to watch this video that surfaced in 2009 to get a close-up view of the issue!

But wait! Just out is a study penned by a group of scientists that totally refutes conservationist claims on Sea Lice and Salmon mortality. SEA LICE NOT THE CAUSE OF WILD SALMON COLLAPSE" The lead researcher does have a history of employment with American fish farms, but, well... click here to read up on their recent conclusions. They are scientists after all.

And the fire burns on....


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