This time the link is to the iconic wild sockeye stocks of the Fraser River.
Fraser River sockeye are the most important food and subsistence species for more than 40 aboriginal communities, the much-prized foundation for the province’s most valuable commercial fishery and a growing target for sports anglers.
The study by scientists from the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University and several environmental organizations with an interest in salmon conservation used genetic analysis to determine the origin of sockeye from Canada’s two most important salmon rivers, the Fraser and the Skeena.
Skeena River sockeye smolts migrate through waters where there are no net cage salmon farms, so it served as a control.
Migrating Fraser River sockeye smolts, on the other hand, must run a gauntlet of fish farms scattered among the islands that choke the narrows between Vancouver Island and the mainland north of Campbell River.
The scientists found that Fraser River sockeye passing salmon farms in the Discovery Islands and Broughton Archipelago picked up a heavier load of sea lice than Skeena River fish migrating through waters where there were no salmon farms.
How important is this discovery?