Sea lice: Aquaculture industry welcomes federal OK of deltamethrin in salmon cages
ST. STEPHEN – A spokeswoman for one industry reacted with dismay and a spokesman for another with relief, to news from Ottawa Wednesday.
The decision by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency to approve deltamethrin, sold commercially as AlphaMax, to kill sea lice in floating salmon cages delighted fish farmers but angered traditional fishermen.
“Basically we are shocked, in a nutshell,” Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association project manager Melanie Sonnenberg said.
“I don’t know any other word to say it – and disappointed. I mean, disappointed doesn’t cover it.”
Meanwhile, Glen Brown, owner of the Grand Manan company Admiral Fish Farms Ltd. welcomed the decision.
“Well, actually, we’re really pleased that Health Canada has given its approval,” Brown said.
“We are very glad this has been approved.”
The provincial Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Department applied for the federal approval on behalf of salmon farmers who are battling sea lice, department spokeswoman Gisèle Regimbal confirmed Wednesday.
But pesticides that kill sea lice kill lobster, Sonnenberg said.
Health Canada limited the emergency registration to Oct. 15 to Dec. 31, department media relations officer David Thomas said in an email from Ottawa.
“Treatments with Alphamax are restricted to tarped cages or in well boats, and the province must monitor certain aspects of treatments and report the results to Health Canada, as was required in 2009,” Thomas said.
“Health Canada’s conclusion is that the use of Alphamax does not pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment if used according to label directions and the conditions of the emergency registration.”
The approval for the organophosphate pesticide azamethiphos, sold commercially as Salmosan, expired Oct. 15.
Salmon farmers still have two bath treatments for sea lice: AlphaMax and hydrogen peroxide. They can also use the in-feed pesticides Slice and Calicide.
“Having only one just doesn’t work that well,” Brown said. “What we’d really like is a suite of tools we could use in a strategic way.”
The lobster industry wants the opposite, Sonnenberg said.
On Monday the Traditional Fisheries Coalition, including the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association, made a verbal request of Health Canada to suspend putting chemicals in the bay.
“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,” Sonneberg said.
Fish farmers cannot go chemical-free, Brown said. While fish farmers would like to avoid using chemicals, “We just don’t have that option today.”
This debate takes place against the backdrop of investigations in progress by Environment Canada.
The department’s laboratory in Moncton identified the pesticide cypermethrin on dead lobster found last year off Grand Manan on Nov. 19, off Pocologan on Nov. 23 and off Deer Island on Dec. 3.
And all parties are awaiting the laboratory results on dead lobster and other creatures that a fisherman reported off Campobello Island on Sept. 8 of this year.
On Sept. 23 Environment Canada issued “inspector’s directions” telling Northern Harvest and Ocean Legacy Inc. to cease using cypermethrin and to prevent its use in the future in its salmon cages.
Company chief executive officer Larry Ingalls issued a statement that his company does not use cypermethrin.
Canada licenses cypermethrin, sold commercially as Ripcord, for land-based agriculture but not in the ocean.
Meanwhile, Matthew Abbott of St. Andrews, co-ordinator of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick’s Fundy Baykeeper Project, says putting anything that kills sea creatures into the water violates the federal Fisheries Act.
He would control sea lice by limiting the number of salmon in cages.