Fifty-three thousand salmon died while being transferred out of a damaged marine pen at a fish farming facility in the West Fjords, RÚV reports.
According to a report issued by the Arnarlax fish farm, the pen was damaged earlier this month when its inner ring broke and sea water began flowing into it. This caused the railing to list. Although a crew was able to repair the damage temporarily, it was decided that the fish should be transferred to another pen. However difficult weather conditions necessitated that the pen be drained and the fish transferred via well-boat.
The damaged pen held 194,000 salmon, each weighing approximately three kilos. During the move, 53,000 of these fish—weighing 160 tons total—all died. For reference, the Icelandic Association of Fisheries reports that this is the same number of fish as are caught in rivers around the country over the course of an entire year.
Although the cause of death is still being investigated, it’s most likely that the fish suffered from the shock and strain of the move. “We’ll know better when we get there and dissect the fish,” said Erna Karen Óskarsdóttir, the head of aquaculture at the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority. “We’ll come to some conclusions then, but it’s normal that when the weather is bad and fish are transferred between pens, it causes them a lot of stress, which can kill them.”