On the run – escaped farmed fish in Norwegian waters



Posted on 12 May 2005  | 
The wild Atlantic salmon has a fascinating migratory lifecycle, which takes it from its river of birth to thousands of kilometres out at sea, and back again to the exact same river to spawn. It is an example of a species adapted to its environment through thousands of years of evolution, where each river holds a unique and local salmon stock.

However, these strong survival genes are now threatened. Farmed fish are bred to grow quickly, taste good and be more nutritious for humans – none of which are useful survival traits in the wild. As the fish farming industry has been present in Norwegian waters for more than 20 years, we are now able to see the consequences of these fish escaping into the wild. In areas with dense fish farming, the negative impacts on wild salmon populations are indisputable.
 
Knowing that stocks of coastal cod are at their lowest level ever, and that cod farming is quickly growing as an industry, WWF fears that we risk repeating history and that escaped farmed cod in a few years will pose a threat to our already dwindling coastal cod stocks.
 
This report also describes some of the actions taken by the fish farming industry and the Norwegian Government to reduce the amount of escaped farmed fish and concludes with some recommendations for further improvements in management.
 
It is WWF’s sincere hope that by addressing this issue, we will see a steep decline in the number of farmed fish escaping in the coming years. This report should serve as a wakeup call for governments to better manage their fish farming industries, and indicates to the fish farming industry that changes in its attitudes and practices are needed.

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