The relevance of sea lice, toxins and fish still debated


From the Vancouver Sun, Feb 21 – 2011

Letter by Dr. Craig Orr

Re: Industry disputes fish farm sea lice is harming wild salmon, Letters, Feb. 17

irony is likely not lost on most Sun readers. Mary-Ellen Walling,
spokeswoman for the salmon farming organization running glitzy and
expensive ads telling us not to believe everything we hear about farmed
salmon-but giving us few facts to judge-now tells us not to worry about
the impacts of lice on juvenile sockeye. Because they have scales,
juvenile sockeye are resistant to lice, she claims.

She also cites
one outlier study by two veterinarians associated with the farming
industry as a reason not to take sea lice concerns too seriously.

with scales, and larger than juvenile sockeye, have been absolutely
decimated by farm-source lice in Europe. Dozens of papers document this
sad fact. Another paper on B.C. coho published before Christmas suggests
lice have serious impacts on larger predatory fish (with scales no

And, as we pointed out in our original PLOS One paper, lice
are known vectors for transmitting diseases, one of the key concerns
being investigated in the Cohen Inquiry into declining Fraser River
sockeye. But hey, let’s keep the facts to a dull roar-and the fingers
pointing elsewhere. Pump up the glitz. Everyone’s eyes might just glaze
over, and little will change.

Craig Orr Watershed Watch Salmon Society Coquitlam

Read original letter here


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.