Min­is­ter urges ac­tion on high mor­tal­ity

Fish Farmer - - News -

NOR­WE­GIAN fish­eries min­is­ter Per Sand­berg told fish farm­ing bosses that salmon mor­tal­ity rates were un­ac­cept­able and must be cut to im­prove an­i­mal wel­fare and pro­tect their rep­u­ta­tion and profits.

The min­is­ter called a meet­ing of ex­ec­u­tives on May 15 as fig­ures from the Nor­we­gian Di­rec­torate of Fish­eries re­vealed 53 mil­lion salmon died on Nor­we­gian farms last year.

‘To bring down the mor­tal­ity is some­thing every­one will ben­e­fit from, pri­mar­ily the fish but also the fish farm­ers’ bot­tom line, and not least their rep­uta- tion,’ Sand­berg said.

Mor­tal­ity rates of large fish 15 months af­ter trans­fer to sea were a par­tic­u­lar con­cern, with the level al­most dou­bling be­tween 2010 and 2016, ac­cord­ing to the In­sti­tute of Ma­rine Re­search. Mor­tal­ity dur­ing the first month, how­ever, had been much re­duced.

While the sur­vival of salmon in cages can vary greatly be­tween in­di­vid­ual farm­ing sites, some 15 to 20 per cent of the fish die every year, ac­cord­ing to the Food Safety Au­thor­ity, up from 10 to 12 per cent in 2012, due to out­breaks of sea lice and dis­ease.

The ma­jor­ity of cages have less than 12.6 per cent mor­tal­ity af­ter 15 months, while in 20 per cent of cages one in five fish re­port­edly died af­ter 15 months.

At a few farms, mor­tal­ity rates were up to 50 per cent, with the largest losses to the west and in the Froya re­gion.

One in­dus­try in­sider told Fish Farmer that mor­tal­ity rates for the first three months of 2018 were up by 30 per cent on last year.

Treat­ments for sea lice are thought to be partly to blame for the ris­ing mor­tal­i­ties, sub­ject­ing fish that may al­ready be weak­ened by dis­ease to fur­ther stress.

In Scot­land, mor­tal­ity rates were around 20 per cent last year, with gill health cited as a ma­jor prob­lem, as it is in other salmon pro­duc­ing coun­tries.

While lice num­bers are be­ing brought un­der con­trol in most Scot­tish farms, treat­ments can com­pro­mise fish chal­lenged by gill dis­ease.

Above: Per Sand­berg

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