Nearly 2 Million Fish Died in Aquaculture Pens So Far in 2024 Skip to content

Nearly 2 Million Fish Died in Aquaculture Pens So Far in 2024

By Erik Pomrenke

aquaculture farm iceland
Photo: Open-net salmon farms in the Westfjords..

During the first five months of 2023, around 1.3 million farmed salmon died in sea cages. This year, the number is nearly 2 million. Vísir reports that Jón Kaldal from the Icelandic Nature Conservation Association says the government must take action.

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The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has released new data on farmed salmon. The figures for May 2024 show a significant increase in salmon death (referred to as drop off) compared to May 2023, and the overall situation for the first five months of this year is much worse than the same period last year. In the first five months of 2023, about 1.3 million farmed salmon died in sea cages. This year, the number has risen to just under two million, which is roughly equivalent to 100 times the entire spawning stock of Icelandic wild salmon.

Read More: Stricter Policy for Fish Farms Following Escapes

Jón Kaldal, spokesperson for the Icelandic Nature Conservation Association, stated to Vísir that the government must take action and shut down offending fish farms.

“We know that the Federation of Icelandic Fish Farmers will fight tooth and nail against legislation that prohibits these practices because the suffering and death of farmed salmon are a part of the business model of aquaculture companies. They expect a high percentage of the salmon not to survive the conditions in the sea cages,” Jón stated.

Jón also pointed towards Norway, which has also seen its domestic aquaculture industry grow significantly in recent years. According to Jón, the largest associations of Norwegian biologists and experts in fish diseases urged the Norwegian government this spring to require Norwegian aquaculture companies to reduce mortality rates to under 5 percent per year.

“The companies will not improve their practices voluntarily, neither here nor in Norway,” Jón stated to Vísir.

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