Published: August 26, 2009 5:00 AM
The missing million in the Bulkley are not due to fish farms.
Ian Roberts with Marine Harvest Canada said the idea that sea lice from fish farms could result in one million missing fish in the Bulkley River is logistically impossible, as the sockeye salmon that travel our rivers come down from Alaska, nowhere near the nearest fish farm, which is by Swindle Island.
“Your river systems will never come into contact with fish farms,” Roberts said.
Stan Proboszcz, a fish biologist with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, said this was correct, that when he made reference to sea lice being a potential cause for the missing sockeye he was only referring to the Fraser River, and not the Skeena.
Roberts added that while some of the Fraser River sockeye do come into contact with fish farms, attributing the 90 per cent decrease in the expected run to sea lice contracted by the fish is unlikely.
“We are not adding to the natural occurring sea lice,” Roberts said.
The fish farms are heavily monitored, especially around April and March when the salmon begin their journey upstream. Drugs and other preventative measures are taken to minimize the sea lice population. Sockeye salmon, in particular, are also quite large, so not overly susceptible to death by sea lice. There are also naturally occurring sea lice from herring and halibut.
“The question is, are we adding to this [the sea lice]?” said Roberts.