Over 300 Tonnes of Microplastics From Norwegian Salmon Farms Annually.
Updated: May 16, 2022
“More than 300 tonnes of microplastic from feeding pipes goes straight to the sea every year in Norway alone.” says Naturvernforbundet Norway.
A report by journalists Arne Egil Tønset Kristian Sønvisen Bye.
There are many indications that the plastic pipes transporting salmon feed pellets under pressure can be a significant source of pollution.
The Norwegian Society for Nature Conservation believes that more than three hundred tonnes of microplastics each year go straight to the sea through wear and tear on feed pipes at Norwegian fish farms
Naturvernforbundet asks the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister for the Environment that a survey of these plastics emissions be initiated.
There were fishermen and members of the Norwegian Society for Nature Conservation's fishing and aquaculture committee, Arnold Jensen in Nordreisa, who first highlighted the issue.
“Here is evidence of a microplastic that ends up in nature. It's the little invisible plastic. It comes out with the feed and right into the cages.” he says.
Arnold Jensen wanted to compare scrapped and less worn plastic pipes for use in feeding farmed fish. The pipes are used to transport abrasive fish feed pellets under pressure. This wears the wall on the inside of the pipe.
Arnold Jensen found that the weight difference on slightly worn and very worn pipes was on average half a kilo per meter of pipe. It became the basis for the calculation that the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation is now presenting to the authorities.
The conclusion is that the feed pipes at Norwegian fish farms generate more than 325 tonnes of microplastics in a year. Arnold Jensen has seen enough plastic in the sea that he will not sit still to look at it.
“We must all try to do something about it. It is not useful to sit with your hands in your lap saying that this goes well in the end.” he says.
The aquaculture industry will not immediately approve of the Nature Conservation Federation's calculation. They are all guilty of buying time and casting doubt.
The chairman of the Norwegian Seafood Companies Association (NSL) Håvard Høgstad believes that one must take into account the number of fish farms that actually use feeding pipes, and that the feed hoses that have been examined are not necessarily representative.
“We do not want to dismiss the issue. But it is true for a number of sites, but the sites are not in use all the time. Also, not all locations use that type of technology.” he says.
“But the aquaculture industry also wants more facts on the table in the issue of microplastic emissions.” says Høgstad.
What happens to micro - or nanoplastic particles from the feeding tube has not been investigated. But one knows that cod along the Norwegian coast eat plastic, and that 3 to 5 percent of the coastal cod has plastic in the stomach. But how fish are affected by plastic is a whole new field for the researchers, says Geir Wing Gabrielsen.
“I know that in the EU context, there are two large projects where one looks at whether this plastic that is eaten by fish can have health effects on the fish, and can possibly come on the food plate for people.” he says.
In Scotland, the problem is manifest but the direct source from salmon farming is not yet accepted or acknowledged by government.
Roseanna Cunningham, Environment Minister said: “We want to attract and invest in innovative projects which prevent plastics entering the marine environment or propose operational solutions to capture, collect, recover and reprocess marine plastic waste.”
However, her successor Mairi Gougeon has yet to address this issue. Without government intervention the feed pipe issue appears insurmountable and yet again demonstrates that salmon farming always receives a “Get out of Jail Free” card when it comes to the environment!