Monthly Archives: December 2010

Craig Orr’s criticism of sea lice study inconclusive, unconvincing

Craig Orr works for an group called Watershed Watch. His job as an activist includes criticizing salmon farming.  In his latest blog, Mr. Orr complains about a peer review study which was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study clearly puts to rest the myth that sea lice and farmed salmon were the cause for a low return of pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago in 2002.

Mr. Orr’s criticisms and questions require a response;

“The biggest criticism of the paper’s finding lies in the stark contrast of the conclusions with respect to other published science linking salmon farming and lice to declines in pink salmon as well as coho, sea trout, and wild Atlantic salmon.”

Mr. Orr ignores the fact that the paper’s findings was specific to British Columbia, Canada. To draw comparisons to other parts of the world and other wild species not present in Pacific waters does not bolster Mr. Orr’s argument. In fact, the study refers to the Pacific and Atlantic sea louse as having “significant genetic differences” and the Pacific louse being “clinically less pathogenic”. Five of the eight peer reviewed papers that Mr. Orr uses to attempt to show the “weight of evidence” is clearly on his side are not based in British Columbia.

“…why this particular group of researchers was given privileged acces to on-farm data”

The reason why fish health data was provided to these researchers is simple: these researchers are licensed veterinarians and fish pathologists and have the expertise to understand and analyze fish health data. Prior researchers who now complain they didn’t have the same access to this information either (1)didn’t ask for it, or (2)lack the expertise and professional credentials to analyze the data.