In a recent report from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), 16 salmon caught in the Mjólká river in the Westfjords were confirmed to originate from farms.
Signs indicate that the salmon originate from open sea farms by Haganes, where a hole in the pen caused part of the stock to escape in August of 2021.
MAST reports that it will re-run the original DNA analysis to confirm its finding, and that they hope to trace the origin of the farmed salmon in better detail.
Of a sample of 32 salmon caught in the Mjólká river, 16 of them likely originated from farms. The other 16 were confirmed to be wild in origin.
The farm in question is owned and operated by Icelandic aquacultural company Arnarlax.
In a statement to RÚV, Karl Steinar Óskarsson, head of MAST’s aquaculture department, stated that “we always take it seriously when there’s a hole in a pen. No diseases have been found in the farmed salmon caught in Mjólká. It’s pretty clear that this fish has escaped. As soon as we have all the facts, we will update this information.”
Escaped farm salmon can pose a risk to local, wild stocks, as aquaculture farms can be breeding grounds for diseases not found in wild salmon. Should farm-raised salmon escape and breed with the wild stock, it could cause larger problems for the local ecosystem.
Iceland’s aquacultural industry has grown rapidly in recent years to meet rising demand for seafood. Such incidents have been recorded already beginning in 2018.