Norway's National Salmon Policy Fails Miserably: Fear of 175,000 escapee salmon
The national policy of Norway got a “dubious boost” this week when between 175,000 farmed salmon escaped from their cages sited near the island of Hitra, that lies outside the Trondheimfjord on the west coast of Norway. Norway enjoys the most casual fish farm regulations in the world in order to benefit its balance of trade and commerce.
In the last five years, no less than 200,000 wild salmon have been saved from netting by a leading conservation group called Elvene Rundt Trondheimsfjorden and supported by the NASF international coalition - in a rescue operation to save 43 magnificent wild salmon rivers that empty into the Trondheimfjord, rivers that are the backbone of the rural economy in this part of Norway. This effort and these values are now under dire threat from an industry completely out of control.
It is believed that the SalMar aquaculture company is responsible for this disaster, after administering a chemical treatment to the fish in its cages last Thursday, but it took five long days before the loss was discovered and reported to the authorities. News of further disaster is feared in the same region where fish have been seen up to six and seven kilos.. Norway claims to have the world´s best fish farm protection schemes but this is Trondheim´s biggest fish farm disaster and a direct result of refusals to change once and for all the highly unsustainable practice of farming in open-sea cages. The fish farmers have the full support of the Norwegian Fishery Minister, Lisbeth Bergh-Hansen, and of Erik Solheim, the Minister of Environment, who characterises the escape as a tragedy, yet refuses completely to make the obvious and necessary changes to industry practices.
The intensive concentrations of penned fish in open water seriously pollutes the sea and sea bed with excrement, chemicals and drugs such enclosures attract and create swarms of sea-lice and other sub-lethal parasites; the cages also attract marine predators which then attack wild salmon as they migrate to and from nearby rivers. Large numbers of these artificially-raised fish inevitably escape from the pens and enter the rivers and by mating with wild fish, thus destroying the genetic integrity of the native salmon. The tragic demise of the once mighty Vosso is a perfect example of this.
The wild salmon strains have evolved to travel thousands of miles during their migrations. The introduction of foreign genes from these farmed fish has been shown to reduce the capability of the offspring to survive in the wild. There are now only relatively few wild Atlantic salmon left in the rivers of Norway and these precious few simply will not be able to survive and thrive in the face of the impact of these mismanaged fish farms. The two most famous rivers of the region, the Orkla and Gaula, have so far been among the few healthy rivers with strong stocks of native fish, due to conservation minded and hard-fighting river owners. The disaster at Hitra is extremely depressing because it is a direct threat the to these fabulous salmon rivers.
A spokesperson for NASF said Norway must stop aggravating the world with an unsustainable salmon policy. For fifteen years the NASF coalition has demanded a radical, immediate change in Norwegian salmon farming practices, moderns technology must be introduced and moved to closed, controllable and environmentally safe facilities, including land-based farms.
North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF). Helping restore Atlantic salmon to their natural abundance