Sea Lice (Still) Threaten Salmon

Check out this summary of new findings on how sea lice from fish farms threathen wild salmon population in today's New York Times. I thought the article's title (which is not chosen by the reporter), Parasites in Fish Farms Threaten Salmon, Researchers Say, cast an interesting shadow of doubt over the findings ("researchers say"), which were published in this week's issue of Science.

The lead author on the paper is Martin Krkosek, a Ph.D. student who presented much of his research at the Fisheries Centre in October 2005. After Krkosek gently ended his talk, Daniel Pauly encouraged a discussion on the ethics of science, with particular attention to whom fell the burden of proof. In other words, why are scientists responsible for showing sea lice cause harm rather than the farmed salmon industry responsible to show they do not?

From today's New York Times:

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada [DFO], a government agency responsible for developing aquaculture while safeguarding wild fish stocks, "no direct cause and effect" has been established between sea lice prevalence and salmon mortality. The agency says sea lice prevalence is "a complex ecosystem puzzle" in need of further study.

But the DFO might study the problem to death (literally, of wild salmon). In October 2005, Krkosek also said that the DFO research on sea lice and salmon is not optimized to test a designed hypothesis. Perhaps preceding their hypothesis the DFO might also ask: Is the farm/wild debate truly open for discussion?

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