No More Open Sea Fish Farms

Posted on 18th May, by NASF in Latest News, Press coverage, Press release. No Comments

No More Open Sea Fish Farms

No more growth until problems are solved says CEO of Norsk Industri

A stop to all further open-sea salmon farming in Norway has been announced. This is a very important step towards the protection of wild Atlantic salmon stocks, many of which are under threat from a variety of dangers.

The North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF), Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), NASF (Norway), Norske Lakseelver, Norges Jeger & Fiskerforbund (NJFF), and other conservation organisations have campaigned for years against the damage to wild salmon stocks caused by the farms. Representatives of the groups were given the good news in Norway at the 10th annual Hardangerfjord seminar on fish farming.

The news of the halt in the expansion of the industry was announced by Mr. Stein Lier-Hansen, CEO of Norsk Industri. His organisation, which includes the main salmon farming interests and Norway’s biggest grouping of commercial companies, like Norsk Hydro, Aker, Stataoil and Marine Harvest. Mr Lier-Hansen said that it cost the industry 15 billion NOK just to combat sea lice last year and it had not been possible to overcome their negative effects of the farms on the environment. Norsk Industri would try to continue developing the aquaculture industry but only in a completely safe and sustainable way.

For many years NGOs have complained about the adverse effects on wild salmon stocks of the pollution, mass escapes, diseases and lice explosions produced by the international fish farming industry’s use of offshore open cages. Up to now, curbs on the industry have been sidelined by national and local authorities because of the jobs created by the profitable and strong industry.

Norwegian salmon farms have been producing 1.2 – 1.3 million tons a year, 60 % of the world’s total. But recent “polluter pays” costs of combating sea lice, escapes, fish diseases, high mortality, waste management and low levels of oxygen in some fjords have shot up by more than 30%.


Welcoming the Norsk Industri statement, Jens Olav Flekke, Chairman of NASF (Norway) said:

This underscores a policy to abandon all further open sea salmon farming despite the industry´s high margins because  the necessary conservation measures overshadow the temporary extreme profits.”

Between 15 and 20 closed-containment systems in the sea are now in operation in various fjords in Norway and many conservation groups believe these producers can equal or beat the cost of open-cage farms. NASF speakers gave the conference an outline of their clean-up aims and warned that it was vital to speed the change to closed-containment to protect deteriorating wild Atlantic salmon stocks.


Closed-containment salmon farming in Norway.

Closed-containment salmon farming in Norway.

Campaigning for land-based and closed-containment solutions

The NASF-ASF international fish farm group meets regularly to campaign for land-based and closed-containment solutions.

The end of interceptory mixed stock fisheries continues as NASF’s prime target but green, safe and sustainable fish farming is of course also a very important target too. This group embraces NASF International, Atlantic Salmon Fund (ASF), NASF (Norway), Aquafuture (Germany), The Grassy Creek Foundation (US) and several other organisations who meet around the world to collect information, liaise and bring groups together in this respect.  Already there are a great many such safe projects underway in Norway, Denmark, Iceland, France, Scotland, Canada and the USA.

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