Above: Arnarlax salmon farming pens in Arnarfjörður fjord. Photo by Golli.
MAST, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, has reported that salmon farming company Arnarlax discovered a tear in one of their salmon pens, RÚV reports. The tear was discovered by divers yesterday morning, and repairs have been completed.
Arnarlax reported the tear to MAST, which was found on a salmon pen next to Hringsdalur in Arnarfjörður fjord, in the Westfjords of Iceland. MAST is now inspecting the case. Arnarlax is working with the Directorate of Fisheries to put out nets in order to inspect whether any farmed salmon escaped.
Iceland Review has previously reported on escaped farmed salmon caught in Fífustaðadalsá river in Arnarfjörður fjord, where Arnarlax operations are based.
Arnarlax and the Directorate of Fisheries have laid out nets in collaboration to inspect whether any farmed salmon escaped out into nature. There were 157.000 salmon in the pen, with an average weight of 1.3 kilograms. The tear in the pen was relatively small, 15×50 cm large, at a depth of 20 metres. It is not known how long the tear was open.
The possibility of salmon escaping from the pen cannot be ruled out. Guðni Magnús Eiríksson, head of the salmon and trout division at the Directorate of Fisheries stated that the Directorate of Fisheries was notified of the matter at noon yesterday, and Arnalax had already engaged their contingency plan. “The plan entails that nets are placed around the pen which the tear was discovered on. What we did was to send inspectors to the site immediately, who confirmed that the plan has been engaged, and inspect conditions wholly,” Guðni stated.
“According to Arnarlax’s description, the tear is not really large, but still large enough that they cannot rule out that fish escaped. There are no indications right now that this is a major incident, but it is not wholly clear,” Guðni said to RÚV yesterday afternoon. A possible escape of farmed salmon has not been confirmed as of now.
When asked whether he believes it likely that farmed salmon escaped, Guðni had this to say: “It’s difficult for me to assess it at this moment. An emphasis has been placed on engaging the contingency plan. I will receive further information about this incident, what might have caused it, how long it was open and such – so it’s difficult for me to say.”
Salmon farming has many opponents in Iceland. Many believe that salmon farming proposes a threat to the Icelandic population of wild Atlantic salmon. Licences for the salmon farming companies Arctic Sea Farm and Fjarðarlax had previously been revoked in October 2018. Arnarlax is a salmon farming company farmed founded in Bíldudalur in the Westfjords, operating in Arnarfjörður fjord.