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CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – The BC Salmon Farmers Association is responding to a report out this week making inaccurate and unsupported claims about how salmon farmers counted sea lice between 2011 and 2016.

There is no question good science is incredibly important in the effective management of sea lice. However, a review of this report makes it clear the issue is not with salmon farmers’ sea lice counting, but with the model created for this study by its authors.

The report by Sean Godwin et. al is presented as a direct comparison of sea lice data collected by salmon farmers and submitted to the DFO with audits conducted by the DFO. However, that’s not what it actually does. Rather, the study’s authors created a complex model themselves to try and estimate what sea lice counts should have been in the past, and report on variance from their own model to actual sea lice counts. The model feels rushed, and is based on assumptions that aren’t clear in the study and don’t reflect a number of complex variables including the reality of ocean conditions.

Perhaps inadvertently the report indicates that in the period studied (2011-2016) sea lice levels on salmon farms were well-managed. Even if you accept the report’s modelling numbers rather than the actual data, they found sea lice counts were well under the threshold above which treatment is required.

BC salmon farmers are committed to managing sea lice effectively, and strong monitoring is a key part of that. We strive for accurate counting, good training of aquaculture technicians doing that work, and confirm our performance with internal and third party certification audits. Salmon farmers spend their lives working in the ocean environment, and are dedicated to playing a key role in protecting the health of wild salmon populations while producing millions of meals each week to help feed the world.

Through this work and similar initiatives across all aspects of our operations, BC salmon farming has emerged as one of Canada’s most sustainable food production sectors. BC salmon farming is important, supporting 7,000 jobs raising about three-quarters of the salmon harvested in BC each year, more than 6.5 million meals worth in typical times. Designated an essential service during the pandemic, we are helping keep people fed safely, and sustainably.

About the BC Salmon Farmers Association:

Farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s highest valued seafood product, the province’s top agricultural export, and generates over $1.5-billion towards the B.C. economy, supporting about 7,000 jobs.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association represents over 60 businesses and organizations throughout the value chain of finfish aquaculture in B.C. Our members account for over 95% of the annual provincial harvest of farm-raised salmon, 100% of the salmon feed produced in B.C., and most of the service and suppliers involved in ensuring that over $800-million of salmon raised in B.C. gets to domestic and global markets.

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Media contact:
Shawn Hall