Norwegian Salmon Farming

This resolution was adopted at Spires Grand Meeting 2016

Norway has both the world's largest salmon farming industry and the world's largest population of wild salmon. The aquaculture industry is important for the Norwegian economy, but also causes a variety of problems.

1) The aquaculture industry imports about 75% of the feed. A lot of this is soy, which occupies large agricultural areas in Brazil (see Spire’s report “Soyalandet” for more information about Norwegian import of soy).
2) The high density of fish in the net-pens has created major problems with sea lice. Sea lice are transferred from farmed fish both to wild salmon and to wild trout.
3) Farmed salmon have been bred partly to be fast growing, and is now quite different from its wild relative. Salmon escaping from cages interbreed with wild salmon; changing the genetics of the wild salmon making them less adapted to "their" rivers. 4) Farmed salmon is bred with good economics as a goal, and not animal welfare. Deformed spines are not uncommon in farmed salmon, and can be both painful and cause poor health. The density in the pens can also cause stress and aggressiveness.
5) The aquaculture contributes to half of Norwegian emissions of copper. The net-pens are impregnated with anti-fouling agents containing copper to prevent algae growth, and most of this copper leaches out in the water.
6) Salmon farming contributes to spread serious diseases to wild salmon and trout like ISAV (Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus).
7) The waste from salmon farming can lead to hyper eutrophication and unsuitable conditions for other maritime species around the farms.

Some progress has been made. Sea lice are now treated with so-called ‘cleansing fish’ (leppefisk) to some degree, rather than chemicals. Copper emissions have been decreased by the adoption of new technology, including using double nets that you can switch between, which make anti-fouling unnecessary. However the problems of escapees and sea lice developing resistance to medication are persistent. Norwegian aquaculture industry must become more sustainable. To achieve this, it must increasingly rely on Norwegian resources, rather than soy from Brazil. Growth in the industry must be limited to ensure a better management of resources and less pressure on rivers and waterways. Medication of farmed fish must be significantly reduced for the sake of animal welfare, human health and the local ecosystems. One should increasingly focus on replacing farmed fish with local fisheries, independent of inputs such as medication, feed and antibiotic-like substances.


Spire demands that:


  • Norwegian aquaculture should be based on Norwegian resources to a greater extent. Imports of soybean and other raw materials for feed must be reduced sharply.
  • Medication of farmed fish must be reduced for the sake of animal welfare and problems of sea lice developing resistance.

Norwegian aquaculture cannot grow until existing problems with escapes, spread of parasites and disease, poor animal welfare and local pollution, are solved.