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An assessment of salmon farms and wild salmonids as sources of Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Krøyer) copepodids in the water column in Loch Torridon, Scotland


M J Penston, Fisheries Research Services Marine Laboratory, 375 Victoria Road, Aberdeen AB11 9DB, Scotland


Wild salmonids and farmed salmon can both be sources of Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Krøyer, 1838) larvae. Farmed salmon smolts free of L. salmonis infections are stocked in sea cages and may subsequently contract L. salmonis infections, probably from wild fish. The contribution of gravid L. salmonis at Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., farms to populations of L. salmonis larvae in the water column has in the past been based on estimated parameters, such as louse fecundity. This present study augments these calculations by combining empirical data on densities of infective L. salmonis copepodids in the field with estimates of the number of gravid L. salmonis on farmed and wild salmonids in Loch Torridon. Data collected between 2002 and 2007 show a significant correlation between mean densities of L. salmonis copepodids recovered in the water column and the numbers of gravid L. salmonis at the local salmon farms. Generally, the farms with greatest numbers of salmon were observed to have stronger correlations with densities of copepodids in the water than the farms with fewer fish. The study suggests that louse management approaches, e.g. treatment trigger levels, need to take account of individual farm biomass, or numbers of fish. This study highlights the importance of control of L. salmonis on salmon farms for the co-existence of both wild salmonid populations and the aquaculture industry.