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Lice Infested Norwegian Growth Plans.


Three years ago, Norsk Industri launched their "Roadmap for healthy growth in the aquaculture industry". Seafood Norway followed, but where are these roads that would lead the industry towards more environmentally friendly operations?


February 14, 2020 09:45 When Mowi joined Norsk Industri in 2015, the background was disagreement with Seafood Norway in several key issues, such as how the industry would develop further. Norsk Industri acknowledged that sea lice and escaped farmed salmon are harmful to the environment and wild salmon, something Seafood Norway questioned. Norsk Industri's vision was that the industry's footprint was going down so that exports could go up.


"We need to have a healthy growth where expansion does not compromise on the environment and fish welfare," said Stein Lier-Hansen, Ceo of Norsk Industri when presenting the roadmap.The main objectives of the roadmap were simple, clear and committed. The road the aquaculture industry had to go, should end in zero lice, zero escapes and zero resources astray. This should be achieved through preventive and non-repairing, or compensatory measures. But then we didn't hear any more about that case.


Seafood Norway followed up with "Aquaculture 2030". In this report, they stated that Norwegian aquaculture should account for the world's most environmentally friendly production of healthy food, and that the industry should deliver seafood, manufacturing expertise and world-class technology. Seafood Norway wanted to help maintain stocks of wild salmon, coastal cod and shrimp. They were not as specific as Norsk Industri on what it took to achieve these goals.


The roadmap to Norsk Industri is from 2017. Here it is proposed to introduce a tax on sea lice from 2022. It's only two more years. By 2024, all fish farms would be escape-proof. That's only four more years. In 2027, all facilities were to be lice-free. It's getting closer. Furthermore, all fish in facilities that cannot be defined as escape-proof should be traceable.What happened to all these suggestions? Where are the roads to go to achieve the fine visions within the deadlines?


It looks as if the industry has derailed and is back on the old, familiar path towards more growth. It seems that politicians have settled on their visions and not followed them up further.

In 2017, Norsk Industri believed that the authorities play an important role in facilitating healthy growth in the industry. But the vision that growth must not be allowed until environmental problems are resolved seems to have gone into oblivion. For the stories repeat, year after year and 2019 had the highest number of escapees in several years.


Every year, thousands of escaped farmed salmon wander into the rivers, some of which interbreed with wild salmon. The Institute of Marine Research writes in its latest risk report that "Over time, the ticking of escaped farmed salmon could change the characteristics of the wild salmon stocks, reduce the number of wild salmon produced and impair populations' ability to adapt to changes in the environment".


Sea lice have long been a problem for the aquaculture industry, and for many years has been the biggest obstacle to growth. When the Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Geir-Inge Sivertsen (H) presented the traffic lights earlier this year, he gave the green light for growth in nine out of 13 farmed zones. Two were given yellow lights and can continue as before, including the problem zone Hardanger. Two were given a red light and have to take down production."We are now ensuring continued growth in the industry, while taking the wild salmon seriously," Iversen said.


He didn't mention anything about how wild salmon will be taken seriously. The problems with lice and escapes are still there. Escaped fish can not be traced, and there is no tax on sea lice.


But the problems in the Norwegian aquaculture industry are more than escaped salmon and sea lice. Soon the Norwegian Veterinary Institute's annual fish health report will be released. Last year, the report found that 53 million salmon were lost in Norwegian fish farms in 2018 due to illness. It was at the same level as the year before.


It may seem that the road to a more environmentally friendly aquaculture industry might not be possible. Disease, lice, escapes and all interested parties are paving the way to its ultimate demise. At least, if it is to be talked about, it needs to be followed up with more than words. For example, action.


*Translated From Fiskeribladet.no

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