The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, or MAST, has recently been notified of a hole in a fish pen in Tálknafjörður in the West Fjords of Iceland.
The pen in question is owned and operated by Arnarlax, an aquacultural concern in Iceland.
The hole was discovered after a routine inspection and has since been repaired, according to MAST.
According to information from Arnarlax, the hole in question was some 14cm large, occurring at a depth of 9m. The affected pen held around 99,000 salmon smolt (juvenile salmon).
Since the hole was discovered, MAST has ordered an inspection of other pens in the fjord to ensure there are no further leaks.
Aquaculture, the raising of penned fish instead of catching wild stock, has been a subject of debate in recent years in Iceland. Proponents of aquaculture point to how it relieves pressure from wild fish stocks. Icelandic fisheries have had to implement a quota system in order to ensure against over-fishing of wild populations. Some see aquaculture as a viable alternative to supply a high-demand market, such as salmon, without over-fishing the wild stock.
However, environmentalists have criticized the practice of aquaculture, saying that high-density fish farming pollutes once-pristine fjords.
Another significant concern, as shown by recent events, is that fish pens often break through wear and tear, releasing their bred stock into the wild. The effect of interbreeding between wild and captive fish populations is not yet understood, and escaped fish also put additional pressure on the wild population, competing with them for food and other resources.