Salmon that were caught in the Westfjords recently are suspected to be escapees from open sea salmon farms in the region, a notice from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) states. The fish were reported to MAST on August 26 and samples are now being analysed to determine their origin. Escaped salmon poses a risk to wild salmon populations, as cross-breeding could diminish wild salmon’s chances of survival.
Iceland’s aquaculture industry has been expanding rapidly in recent years. While some aquaculture is practiced on land, the majority of fish farms in Iceland are open-net sea farms. Such farms now operate in several of the Westfjords: Dýrafjörður, Arnarfjörður, Tálknafjörður, and Patreksfjörður.
The industry’s expansion has not been without opposition from environmental groups and local residents. In 2019, a petition signed by 18,000 people calling for a stop to open-net fish farming was handed over to the Icelandic Parliament.
There have been previous instances of escaped farmed salmon caught in the wild in Iceland, including as early as 2018.
MAST will publish more information on the fish once their DNA has been sequenced.