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For years, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had been criticized for downplaying the threat of sea lice on wild salmon.
And in January 2023, the agency released a report on sea lice that outraged the scientific community. The report, meant to inform Joyce Murray, fisheries minister at the time, on decisions regarding the closure of fish farms, concluded there was no statistically significant connection between the sea lice attacking farm fish and the sea lice attacking wild juvenile salmon swimming past the farms.
That conclusion ignored dozens of studies done in Canada and internationally that found sea lice on the farms was a serious problem for juvenile wild salmon.
We “couldn't believe that this had made it through any sort of peer review process to be published because it was so scientifically indefensible,” said Sean Godwin, a researcher with the Pacific Salmon Foundation who has studied sea lice.
Biologist Alex Morton called the DFO conclusion laughable and “scientific fraud.”
In Episode 12 of The Salmon People podcast, we hear scientists deconstruct the DFO study and warn the fisheries minister of bad science.
While you’re there, don’t forget to catch up on the previous season about a 30-year battle to save Canada’s wild salmon. If you like what you hear, help others find us by leaving us a five-star rating and a comment if you’re feeling extra fancy.