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Assessment of wild Atlantic salmon host variables associated with sea lice susceptibility in different environments with varying intensity of salmon aquaculture

Recipient: University of Prince Edward Island (Dr. Fast)
Approved Amount: $47,386 for 2023 (1st year of 2-year project; Total: $97,342)
Year Approved: 2023

Declines in wild Atlantic salmon in Conne River, along the South coast of Newfoundland, have increased speculation amongst communities, First Nations and anglers surrounding the role of aquaculture in the amplification of naturally occurring sea lice (Figure 1). Expansion of industry into bays naïve to aquaculture raises further questions about the potential for additional exchange of pathogens and/or parasites. Information on the epidemiology of sea lice in Newfoundland is minimal and thus its long-term exchange and potential impact on wild salmon remains unknown. Many host and environmental variables (e.g water temperature, salinity etc.) can contribute to the susceptibility to sea lice and this study aims to examine associations between such predictors and sea lice outcomes specific to local environments. We propose to apply innovative sampling methods (i.e. small moored cages stocked with wild smolt) to study background levels of sea lice in different environments, some of which include salmon aquaculture.

Project Contact:

Dr. Mark Fast