In a November 2 newspaper article, Pam Parker, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) expressed concern over the tests Environment Canada conducted during a sea lice pesticide treatment that resulted in dead lobsters. Ms. Parker thought it inappropriate that the lobsters used were transported ‘dry’ from a local pound and then put into the water at an aquaculture site undergoing pesticide treatment. She also claimed that Environment Canada “dragged them (lobster) in a boat for two-and-a-half hours through the upper water column.”
We would like to address Ms. Parker’s concerns and express full support for Environment Canada’s work. First of all, live lobster is always transported without water because they have a much higher survival and health rate when transported ‘dry’ than when transported in water. Lobsters can live up to 36 hours out of water because they have the capacity to store saltwater which they use to keep their gills moist allowing them to breathe. For generations local lobster from Southwest New Brunswick has been transported to markets around the world, live in lobster crates without water. Therefore, transporting lobster from a local pound to the Back Bay salmon site was likely not the cause of their death.
It is our understanding that some lobsters were placed within the salmon cage during a treatment with the recently approved pesticide Alphamax and that other lobsters were placed in the water column at various depths outside the cage. Buoys were attached to the lobsters outside the cage enabling them to float with the effluent from the pesticide treatment once the tarp was released. These lobsters were not dragged for two and a half hours as Ms. Parker claimed, a boat was used to divert the floating buoys away from adjacent cages and then released to float freely again. Both the lobsters placed inside the salmon cage and the lobsters floating outside of the cage died.
The lobsters used in the study were 11⁄2 -2 lb lobsters. Although such a large lobster is generally not found floating or swimming near the sea surface, all stages of lobster larvae live as part of the plankton floating at the surface. Larval and juvenile lobsters are much more susceptible to pesticides such as Alphamax than adult lobsters. If the pesticide kills adult lobsters it will certainly kill young lobsters.
Pam Parker said, “We would like to see this study repeated based on real-life scenario”. A real-life scenario would likely yield much worse results than what was seen that day.
We have been told repeatedly by the aquaculture industry and by the Province of New Brunswick that pesticides are “used up” by the time the tarps are released and the effluent is not harmful to marine life. We now have reason to doubt this claim. We applaud Environment Canada for protecting the marine ecosystem and our local fishing communities that depend on its health.