Arnarlax has ramped up harvesting efforts after 500 tonnes of fish died in the Westfjords region. Photo: Arnarlax.

Arnarlax blames cold for 500-tonne biomass loss

Around 500 tonnes of salmon being grown in Iceland’s Westfjords by Arnarlax have died because of extreme weather, it has been reported.

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Iceland Review website said Arnarlax chairman Kjartan Ólafsson told RUV news agency that the mortalities are within the limits projected by the company.

Kjartan said cold sea temperatures caused salmon to move further down in the nets and rub up against them. The rubbing can cause wounds that eventually lead to the fish’s death.

Kjartan Ólafsson: Losses are within limits projected by Arnarlax.

Increased harvesting

The company has increased the number of vessels involved in harvesting its fish and has brought in the Norwegian processing ship Norwegian Gannet.

Ólafsson told RUV that the company had also brought in the Sighvatur Bjarnason, a 68-metre fishing vessel from Reykjavik, and the Aquaship wellboat Akvaprins to speed up harvesting.

“Operations to increase harvesting capacity have developed according to plan last week,” said Arnarlax in a post its website on Saturday.

Collecting morts

“In Arnarfjörður we now have number of vessels supporting the effort to harvest out Hringsdalur efficiently in the next few weeks and collect mortalities. 

“Mortality numbers have caught the attention of media lately as the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authorities (MAST) has informed that expected mortality in Hringsdalur is close to 500 tonnes. This is the reason for increased harvesting capacity.

“Arnarlax has provided volume guidance of 10,000 tonnes harvest volume in 2020 and will inform stakeholders if any changes estimated to that plan. Reporting of 4Q-19 numbers will be on February 26.”

‘Relentless efforts’

The company, which is majority-owned by Norwegian salmon farmer SalMar, concluded: “We would like to thank our hard-working employees, contractors and suppliers for relentless efforts and hard work the last few days.

“They are now moving record volumes of salmon under extreme conditions through our plant in Bildudalur. Thursday harvesting volume was 18,200 fish, average size of 5.8kg or over 100 tonnes of gutted salmon! Well done!”