May 17, 2024


More than 60 million farm salmon in Norway dead last year




62.8 million salmon died at Norwegian salmon farms in 2023, representing a mortality rate of 16.7%.


Most died of injuries caused by sea lice treatments, winter sores, or illness caused by salmon pancreas disease (SPD), amoebic gill disease (AGD), or infectious salmon anemia (ISA), according to a report from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.


The deaths represented almost US$2 billion in lost income for the industry, which exported US$11 billion worth of salmon in 2023, though most of the mortalities were sold as production-grade fish for use in fishmeal or biofuel.


Disease has been a growing issue for Norwegian salmon farmers in recent years, and even within the past two months, there have been reports of ISA outbreaks at Salmar's Kattholmen II farm in Frøya municipality, Trøndelag county, and at Sjøtroll Havbruk Sjø's Grimsholmen farm in Sveio municipality, Vestland county.


Currently, there are 13 farms listed on the Barents Watch tracking page, which is operated by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, as having known or suspected ISA cases and 40 farms with known or suspected SPD.


The authority said it observed anomalies at half of the fish farms inspected in 2023. In conjunction with Norway's Veterinary Institute, it has set a goal of reducing the industry's mortality rate by 50% by 2030.


"The death of animals is a waste of life and resources," Norwegian Veterinary Institute's aquatic animal health and welfare director, Edgar Brun, told Agence France-Presse. "We also have a moral and ethical responsibility to guarantee them the best possible conditions."


The Norwegian Seafood Federation, which represents many of the largest Norwegian salmon producers, said it is working hard to address the mortalities but that more time is needed.


"On average, it takes three years to breed a salmon," Norwegian Seafood Federation director Geir Ove Ystmark said. "So, it's very difficult to see immediate results today, even though we have launched a series of initiatives and measures."

- SeafoodSource

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