Marine pollution bulletin

Dispersion and toxicity to non-target aquatic organisms of pesticides used to treat sea lice on salmon in net pen enclosures.

PMID 11468921


Pesticides are used extensively in the finfish aquaculture industry to control sea lice infestations on farmed salmon. The most prevalent method of use is to enclose a net pen with an impervious tarpaulin and mix a pesticide solution within that enclosure. After treatment for short periods (1 h) the pesticide solution is released to the environment. Concerns have been raised that there is a potential risk to non-target aquatic organisms from those releases. The fate of dispersing pesticide solutions was measured after six simulated treatments in the Lower Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick. Three simulated treatments were done with azamethiphos and three with cypermethrin. Rhodamine dye was added to all pesticide solutions in order to facilitate tracking of the dispersing plume through real-time measurements of dye concentrations by a flow-through fluorometer coupled with a differential global positioning system (DGPS). Water samples were obtained from within the plumes at various times after release and analysed for pesticide content and toxicity to a benthic amphipod Eohaustorius estuaris. Dye concentrations were detectable for time periods after release which varied from 2 to 5.5 h. Distances travelled by the dye patches ranged from 900 to 3000 m and the dye concentrations at the final sampling period were generally 1/200-1/3000 the pre-release concentrations and cypermethrin concentrations were generally 1/1000-1/2000 the pre-release concentrations. Cypermethrin concentrations in water samples were closely correlated with dye concentrations, indicating that dye analyses were an accurate surrogate for cypermethrin concentrations. Most samples taken after the releases of azamethiphos were not toxic to test organisms in 48 h exposures and none were beyond 20 min post-release. By contrast, almost all samples taken after the release of cypermethrin, even up to 5-h post-release, were toxic. Data indicate the potential to cause toxic effects over areas of hectares from a single release of cypermethrin.

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Azamethiphos, PESTANAL®, analytical standard