Algal bloom hits Norwegian salmon sector

Algal bloom hits Norwegian salmon sector The Norwegian salmon industry has been hit by algal blooms that have so far killed an estimated 11,600 tonnes of fish

An ongoing algal bloom event in northern Norway has left the country’s salmon industry just starting to count the cost.

According to the Directorate of Fisheries, the toll so far is 11,600 tonnes of salmon have died in their cages as a result of the algal bloom event that is not yet believed to be over.

The Directorate’s initial rough calculation is that 11,600 tonnes of salmon is a financial blow to the industry put at around NoK720 million – although all the indications are that the overall cost to the Norwegian salmon sector could be significantly higher. Not all fish farmers  do not have capacity to be sure of figures, and fish weights vary between 700 grammes and 5.50kg. Aquaculture companies have found that fish affected by the algal bloom can not tolerate being moved.

The Directorate states that fish farmers in Troms where an estimated 6800 tonnes of salmon have been lost are cleaning cages and some have resumed feeding, while being prepared for a re-occurrence of an algal bloom which could spread northwards along the coast.

In Nordland losses are put at 4800 tonnes and there have been high mortality rates in outer areas of Ofotfjord and water flows in the region are being monitored carefully.

Harvesting vessel Norwegian Gannet is in the area to receive fish that can be slaughtered on board for delivery ready to be processed in Hirtshals, and Coast Guard vessel Heimdal is also in the Nordland region following a meeting between Seafood Norway, the Directorate of Fisheries and the Coast Guard.

Heimdal is equipped with a mobile lab so that samples can be taken on board. A sampling system with clear routines for information sharing has been established.

The Directorate of Fisheries and the Institute of Marine Research are in dialogue whether it is possible to predict potential algae blooms beyond the areas already affected, including using satellite imaging and extended sampling.

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