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Oversight Lacking in Fish Farming

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Oversight Lacking in Fish Farming

Marine pens in Berufjörður.

A fish farm in Southeast Iceland. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Oversight of fish farming companies is lacking according to ecologist Cristian Gallo of the Westfjords Natural History Institute. Cristian told Vísir contamination caused by accumulated waste from the fish farms is only one of the concerns regarding the practice.

“What is most worrying is salmon lice, diseases in farmed salmon, and the fact that farmed salmon escapes the compounds. And the oversight of fish farming doesn’t work well when companies decide not to comply with certain international standards. There are no specific criteria for what is acceptable and what isn’t. Also there seem to be no rules on what should be done when an area scores poorly in so-called environmental monitoring. There is for example nothing that requires a company to rest an area from continued fish farming if it performs poorly in examinations.”

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) recently authorized the companies Fjarðalax, owned by Arnarlax, and Arctic Sea Farm to produce up to 17,500 tonnes of salmon in the West Fjords, a drastic increase from the previous 3,000 tonnes.

Christian stated that the Westfjords Natural History Institute carries out environmental monitoring for various fish farming companies, but not Arnarlax. “We used to carry out environmental monitoring for Arnarlax, but we no longer do. Those at Arnarlax wanted to terminate the partnership.”

The Westfjords Natural History Institute published a report showing that marine life in Patreksfjörður fjord had changed significantly due to accumulated organic waste from Arnarlax’s salmon farm at Hlaðseyri. According to a report in Fréttablaðið last September, Arnarlax tried to get ASC environmental certification but failed.

Sigurður Pétursson, director of Arctic Sea Farm, says the company is well-supervised. “We at Arctic Sea Farm have the so-called ASC certification for farm products. This is the most stringent environmental certification currently available in fish farming and we are the only Icelandic company that has this standard.” Sigurður adds that three external parties oversee the operations of Arctic Sea Farm.

Vísir was not able to reach Arnarlax representatives for comment.

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