PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY, BBC (U.K.), DER SPIEGEL (Germany)
LONDON - A long-term international study of wild Atlantic salmon has discovered that large numbers of free-ranging salmon are being killed by parasitic sea lice, the BBC has reported. Sea lice, which attach themselves to salmon and then eat their flesh, blood and tissue, were responsible for up to 40 % of the deaths of young wild salmon at sea.
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(Atlantic salmon roaming free - Hans-Petter Fjeld)
Sea lice occur naturally. However, as Der Spiegel reports, in the past 30 years the number of wild Atlantic salmon has fallen by 45 %. According to the study, published by the Royal Society for Biological Sciences, intensive farming of salmon, where sea lice are a common problem, is implicated in the increase of deaths of wild salmon from the parasite.
The joint study, which began in 1996, involved 280,000 individual fish. It was carried out by biologists from Scotland, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, and Canada.