Thousands more Norwegian farm salmon escape in latest incident
By Martin Laine
April 15, 2014
More than 47,000 farm-raised salmon have escaped their cages in northern Norway, the fifth such escape in two months. Environmentalists are warning that the country’s growing aquaculture industry could destroy native wild salmon stocks.
According to an article in the Norway edition of The Local, this latest incident occurred in the Alfjorden, north of Stavanger, at a farm owned by Alsaker Fjordbruk, a leading aquaculture firm, with several farms spread out along the Norwegian coast. Farm-raised fish are Norway’s second-largest export.
The incident has drawn the ire of the Green Warriors of Norway, a major environmental group opposed to aquaculture.
According to their website, the Green Warriors oppose aquaculture because of “contaminants in the farm fish, over-exploitation of wild fish to produce fish food, organized animal abuse, sea lice that kill wild Atlantic Salmon strains, and the vast organic pollution of the beautiful Norwegian fjords.”
In The Local article, Green Warrior founder Kurt Oddekalv suggested that the situation may be worse than it seems, with many escapes going unreported.
“Salmon farmers are now being fined for escapes,” he said. “So they have good reasons for reporting as few as possible.”
Farm-raised salmon escaping into the open waters pose several kinds of threats to the wild stock, according to the Pure Salmon Campaign website. A large escape creates competition for food, habitat, and mates. They also differ genetically from the wild counterparts, having been bred for economically advantageous characteristics – such as fast growth. Finally, having been raised in crowded pens, a concentration of organic waste builds up, and the fish can carry and transmit numerous pathogens and other health problems to the native wild population.