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Regarding recent media stories in Italy

Recent coverage in both Corriere della Sera and the popular television program Le Lene has spotlighted Norwegian salmon, igniting discussions around its production practices and safety standards. The stories have raised questions that could potentially paint an inaccurate picture of the industry and its products.

In response to the concerns voiced by Italian media outlets, the Norwegian Seafood Council would like to offer clarifications and insights as to Norwegian salmon farming and regulation.

PhotoJohan Wildhagen/NSC

Norwegian salmon is safe and healthy food and there are systems in place to ensure this

Contrary to the narrative promoted by Le Lene and Corriere della Seara , farmed Norwegian salmon is by competent food authorities deemed as safe and healthy food. There are stringent systems in place to ensure the safety of all Norwegian food products, including food products from fishery and aquaculture. Should fish die during farming, this fish is prohibited for sale. All use of medicinal treatments due to sea lice or fish illness is also regulated by law.  As one of the few farming industries around the world, Norwegian aquaculture has close to eradicated the use of antibiotics. Coupled with a strict quarantine process, no traces of antibiotics have been found in Norwegian salmon in the last two decades.

Continuous work with fish welfare  

In the last two years salmon farmers in Norway have met new challenges as prior fish vaccines for a bacteria illness common in the winter period have lost some effects. Due the lost effects from these vaccines, some salmon have developed skin and flesh wounds during the farming process. This very unfortunate development has been challenging for the welfare of the fish and the farmers. There are numerous research projects trying to find new and effective vaccines to avoid this bacteria illness, as the situation is negative for fish welfare and the farmers.

It’s important to note that this illness has no effect on the food safety of ready to eat salmon products.



Marine ingredients in salmon feed derive from well managed fisheries

The recent media stories in Italy portray an image of salmon and feed companies being responsible for depletion of fish stocks in West Africa. This image is misleading.

The Norwegian salmon industry does not purchase fishery products from The Gambia nor Senegal. The background data which led to these conclusions have since been corrected by the feed industry, but regrettably not considered in these media reports. The minor volumes (fish oil and/or fish meal) that Norwegian feed suppliers recently have sourced from the West African region, derives from fisheries currently undergoing a fishery improvement project (FIP) in Mauritania. The very nature of a FIP is improvement measures in various aspects of a fishery. As such, stakeholders in a FIP are well aware that the relevant fishery they choose to source from has challenges. In the case for Mauritania, the challenges for both the flat and round sardinella are well documented, but by sourcing from these fisheries, Norwegian buyers are bringing requirements to the table.

Some of the requirements include: 

  • Improvement of data collection on catch, effort and biomass for coastal fleet.
  • Supporting the government in putting in place management plans.
  • Supporting monitoring and enforcement on vessels and in factories and ensuring that the fishery is managed consistent with ecosystem requirements. 

Such efforts are by the same marine researchers documenting these fisheries' challenges acknowledged as important contributions.

Norway – big on farming and wild

By farming volumes, Norway is the largest salmon farmer in the world. It goes without saying that Norwegian fish farmers have a great responsibility towards its environmental surroundings and wildlife. Following the the recent media narrative, one would think that numerous fish farms come at the expense of wild salmon populations. It may therefore come as a surprise that despite Norway’s fish farming activities, Norway continues to host to some of the richest wild salmon populations in the world. The decline in many of the world’s wild salmon rivers have taken place in many regions in the world, also in regions where no salmon farming activities are conducted. This goes to show that there are likely other contributing factors than fish farming alone.  The industry also has numerous measures in place to avoid escapes and dedicated re-catching programs to minimize its impact on wild salmon populations.

Why aquaculture is viewed as an opportunity

Like most forms of food production, aquaculture of salmon also leaves a footprint. Be it local emissions or emissions of CO2. However, there are also well documented upsides with farming of seafood. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has identified aquaculture of seafood as a key area for future food production.
This is due to the fact that seafood is full of nutrients important for human health and that farming of seafood is a relatively efficient method of producing protein. This in terms of feed, land, and water usage. Not to forget carbon emissions, one of the great battles the world is facing today. These factors are also some of the reasons why salmon farming companies have topped the list as most sustainable protein producers in international rankings over the last couple of years.