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Keywords:

  • Atlantic salmon;
  • Lepeophtheirus salmonis ;
  • mortality;
  • sea lice

Abstract

Sea lice infestation as a source of marine mortality of outwardly migrating Atlantic salmon smolts has been investigated by treating groups of ranched salmon, prior to release, with a prophylactic sea lice treatment conferring protection from sea lice infestation. A number of studies have been carried out in Ireland using both established ranched populations and groups of hatchery reared fish imprinted for 5–8 weeks in the sites of experimental releases. In this study, data on 352 142 migrating salmon from twenty-eight releases, at eight locations along Ireland's South and West coasts covering a 9-year period (2001 to 2009) are reviewed. Both published and new data are presented including a previously unpublished time series. The results of a meta-analysis of the combined data suggest that while sea lice-induced mortality on outwardly migrating smolts can be significant, it is a minor and irregular component of marine mortality in the stocks studied and is unlikely to be a significant factor influencing conservation status of salmon stocks.