Bay of Fundy lobster fishermen concerned about sea lice pesticide
Bay of Fundy lobster fishermen are concerned that a pesticide designed to rid the waters of sea lice on farmed salmon could hurt their own catches.
Two different fisheries benefit from the fertile waters of the Bay of Fundy, but sea lice also flourish in the region, leading to test use of the pesticide, Alphamax, in the bay starting in July.
But Maria Recchia, executive director of the Fundy North Fishermen's Association, said: "This particular pesticide is designed to kill sea lice who are a very close relative to lobsters, and the chemical is very dangerous to lobsters."
Sea lice are parasites that attach and feed off salmon.
Recchia said the pesticide will be added to the water of the salmon cages at a time when lobster are at their most vulnerable.
Although this is the first time Alphamax will be used in New Brunswick, it has been tried before in Chile and Norway.
Michael Beattie, chief fish-health veterinarian with the Department of Agriculture and Aquaculture, said that the sea lice pesticide is safe and essential.
"It allows us to treat the sea lice on a timely basis," Beattie said.
"And secondly and most importantly, the multiple tools provide us with a way to prevent resistance to only one product. There has been some studies done on lobster that show no effect at all at the concentration that we're using."
Beattie said the pesticide is "equivalent to a flea shampoo for your dog."
Beattie said testing will take place while the pesticide is in use to determine if it has any negative effects against other life.
If there are, he said, the use of the pesticide would stop immediately.
But the association said it would like to see alternatives to the pesticide to fight the lice.