Tuesday, November 2, 2010

AQUACULTURE: Salmon farmers temporarily allowed use of pesticide

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Fishermen complain that deltamethrin not only kills sea lice, but lobsters and other crustaceans. (Photo: Alexandra Morton)
Monday, October 25, 2010, 02:00 (GMT + 9)

New Brunswick (NB) has obtained permission from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency for fishers to use a restricted pesticide against sea lice in Atlantic salmon farms as an emergency use between 15 October and 31 December 2010.

The main chemical ingredient of the pesticide Alphamax is deltamethrin, which some worry will kill lobsters and other crustaceans in addition to the sea lice. Lobster fishers were therefore dismayed by Health Canada’s decision.

The farmed salmon industry intends to begin the use of Alphamax in the Bay of Fundy this week on farmed fish infested by sea lice.

Health Canada said Alphamax treatments can be used only on tarped cages or contained areas also known as well boats. The salmon is placed in the boats before being bathed in a concentration of Alphamax and then transferred back to the cages with the bath water.

The industry ideally wishes to be allowed to apply a rotation of pesticides so the sea lice do not get a chance to become tolerant to any of the particular chemicals, said Nell Halse of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, reports CBC News.

"That whole process, from our farmers' point of view, takes too long," she explained. "We needed these treatments, a whole suite of them, in the spring when sea lice first started showing up on our farms.”

"If we'd had three to four different treatments that we could rotate around to deal with the different stages of sea lice, we would've been in good shape last spring," she added.

But the industry has been having a difficult time trying to contain an especially burdensome sea lice infestation due to the high ocean temperatures in the summer. Health Canada’s approval of the use of Alphamax in the farms followed an extended risk assessment, Halse told.

Meanwhile, the Traditional Fisheries Coalition made a verbal request to the federal organisation to suspend the use of chemicals in the Bay of Fundy, reports The Telegraph-Journal.

"All treatments need to stop given that the lobster are at a very critical point and that the juveniles in the water are everywhere ... this isn't acceptable," said Melanie Sonnenberg, project manager of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association, which belongs to the Coalition.

Further, Matthew Abbott, a member of the Fundy Baykeeper Project, believes the industry is to blame for its sea lice troubles because they are linked to the long-term use of pesticides in the farms. Consequently, implementing more chemicals is counterproductive.

"I think it goes to show that the problem isn't being solved," he said. "Instead of funding sustainable practices that don't lead to these massive sea lice outbreaks, they just keep adding new chemicals."

By Natalia Real

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