The biological effects of emamectin benzoate (SLICE®) on spot prawn (Pandalus platyceros)

Date

2013-04-18

Authors

Park, Ashley

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Abstract

British Columbia salmon aquaculture operations use the chemotherapeutant emamectin benzoate (EMB trade name SLICE®), a synthesized avermectin compound, delivered through feed to decrease sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) parasite abundance on production fish. Avermectins bind to ion channels in crustaceans and disrupts nerve impulse transmission. Detectable amounts of EMB can accumulate in the depositional area around farms during SLICE® treatment periods, thus presenting potential for exposure to populations of proximate non-target species. The distribution of spot prawn (Pandalus platyceros), an economically important crustacean, overlaps with areas of intensive salmon farm activity. The primary objective of this research was to determine if EMB exposure had a measurable biological effect on spot prawns in the field and in the laboratory. The field component was conducted in the Broughton Archipelago, BC, to determine if emamectin benzoate residues could be detected near actively treating salmon farms, and whether farm proximity affected spot prawn size distribution. Three laboratory experiments tested the mortality, molting and behavioural response of spot prawns to SLICE® feed pellet exposure and acute exposure to EMB through sediment over ten, 30 and 45-day durations. Measurable amounts of EMB was detected in the marine sediment near five farm sites during the field survey and was found to persist between treatment periods. Male and transitional stage spot prawns captured near farm sites attained a greater size and had better body condition compared to reference sites, indicating prawns may benefit from direct or indirect farm food subsidies. However, at several farm sites the size distribution of prawns changed over the sampling period, a trend not observed at reference sites, demonstrating that farm activity may alter prawn population dynamics. Laboratory results indicated that only prawns that had been starved prior to exposure would initially consume SLICE® pellets, but feeding rates declined with subsequent exposures. Depressed consumption rates was not a residual effect of EMB, but rather an aversion to the SLICE® pellet diet as prawns resumed feeding when offered a preferred diet. Sediment EMB exposures to doses 808 µg kg-1 and greater increased prawn mortality, largely due to the inability of molting individuals to successfully complete ecdysis. Exposed individuals accumulated EMB in their abdomen tissue with levels increasing with exposure dose. Prawns exposed to EMB through sediment at concentrations 1419 and 3330 µg kg-1 displayed a significant reduction in olfactory detection and orientation behaviours to food stimuli. This research highlights that spot prawns may avoid SLICE® pellets for preferential food sources, and that only short term EMB exposure 50 to 200 magnitude greater than levels present in the marine environment elicited a measurable response in spot prawn mortality rates, molting success and behaviour. However, preliminary trends in the field survey data indicate that there may be population differences occurring in spot prawns inhabiting areas near treating salmon farms that are not observed in reference populations. These results signify the inherent pitfalls in current management policy that base decisions on short-term acute toxicity laboratory exposure results that may not be indicative of the response of marine populations near active salmon farms to long-term chronic EMB exposure.

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Keywords

Ecotoxicology, Fisheries, Aquaculture, Sea lice, Emamectin benzoate, Spot prawn

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