Wild salmon and sea-trout in Norway face near extinction. This once world famous fishery, its remarkable history and traditions could soon become just a memory. Salmon farm cages, cages that contain upwards of 350 million factory-reared, pseudo fish, now despoil Norway’s fjord-fingered coastline. The environmental impact of these flabby intruders on wild stocks threatens the existence of Norway’s 400,000 to 600,000 wild salmonids as they return each year to spawn in their natal streams.
The best way to oppose this nightmare and to avert the fast-approaching catastrophe of the complete loss of Norway’s wild salmon and sea-trout stocks is by not buying or eating farmed salmon.
Norwegian salmon farming companies are the biggest in the world and have exported their disease and pollution problems around the globe, from Norway to Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Chile. This is not so much about salmon farming, as about making money. The dirty business of salmon farming was born in Norway in the 1960’s and Norwegian government officials have consistently promoted this business at home and abroad. The diseases endemic in Norwegian salmon farms are now endemic, in a smaller but in an escalating scale, in almost every other country that Norway’s fish farmers have blighted with their presence,
The Norwegian government has lacked the will to properly control and police the operation and business plans for salmon farming. The size and value of the business has overshadowed every other consideration. Profit has subsumed environmental probity. Today, it’s justifiable to say that the Norwegian government isn’t managing the farmed salmon industry, but the extinction of Norway’s historic wild salmon and sea-trout populations.
The farmed salmon industry in its present form is not sustainable. In its present form the industry has, and will continue to have, an overwhelming and disastrous impact upon the environment in which it operates. But were adequate controls and administrative systems applied on the big companies in Norway, this would also help to restrict and regulate the activities of these same companies less than friendly environmental activities in overseas host countries.
The vacuuming of the sea for fish and sea-animals at the base of the food chain for production of feed - fish, flour and oil - for the salmon farming industry will eventually exterminate other species dependent on these species for their survival: including cod, haddock, mackerel, wild salmon and sea-trout, whales, seals, porpoise, dolphins, as well as many species of sea birds, including puffin, tern, penguin and albatross. The feeding grounds of these species are being stripped bare.
The production and sale of factory farm salmon fillets filets will not ‘feed the world’, as the fish farmers sometimes might imply. The reverse is true. Salmon farming uses up to 10 times the amount of available protein - wild fish such as Norwegian pout, sandeels, sardines, anchovies, krill - to produce a single farm fish; protein that sustains not only the wild creatures mentioned above, but also tens of thousands of artisan fishermen and their families throughout the world.
The Norwegian government’s own scientists and the Norwegian Directorate for NatureManagement (the directorate serves as an advisory and executive agency under the Norwegian Ministry of Environment) have all reported that there’s no room for further expansion of salmon farming in Norwegian waters. Yet, in spite of the advice of their scientific advisors, the government recently announced a 5% growth for the industry in Norway. The minister of fisheries is herself an owner of one of the largest farmed salmon companies in Norway. This might suggest, at least it does to this observer, that there may be a serious conflict of interests?
This season has seen catastrophic levels of salmonid-killing sea-lice on Norwegian farmed salmon. And sea-lice have now become immune to traditional chemical treatments. One Norwegian scientist said recently that they had no further ‘treatments’ left in their chemical toolbox. If the same concentrations of sea lice are present in the spring, when salmon smolts are leaving their rivers for the sea, then this will kill the whole generation.
Scientists have also found that sea-lice can kill wild mature salmon returning to their rivers to spawn. These fish pass by salmon farms in the mouths of the fiords, and are as easily infested as the little smolts going in the opposite direction. This cloud of sea lice has an even greater impact on sea-trout, who, unlike salmon, generally remain close to the mouths of their natal streams when they go to sea. They swim in this minefield of fish farm filth for most of the year.
Also, hundreds of thousands of farm salmon escape and enter rivers carrying diseases contracted in their cages that can cause huge damage to wild fish. Although sea lice themselves die after one or two days in fresh water, the problem is a parasite carried by the sea-lice. This parasite spreads the virus disease PD (Pancreas Disease); one sea-lice carrying the parasite, is enough to infest and kill a wild salmon. The relationship between the parasite and the virus disease was discovered a couple of years ago by a Chilean scientist, but he was silenced. Now, we have seen the meltdown of salmon farms throughout Chile.
National politicians and local politicians in coastal communities were salmon farms employ people, say that government should preserve and expand the industry. This is true in almost every country where the business of salmon farming prospers. They simply ignore warnings that wild salmonid populations are being driven to extinction. There is a war going on, now, between those of us who want to protect and preserve our environment and its precious wildlife, and those whose only objective is to make money. When government neglects the advice of their scientific advisors, the only way to fight back is by hitting the fish farmers where it hurts most – in their wallets.
Dont buy or eat farmed salmon. Tell your friends the truth about this dirty business and the real price they pay when they buy a fillet of fake salmon.
Author: Geir Kjensmo