Kolbjørn Giskeødegård is chief analyst for Nordea Markets. Photo: Pål Mugaas Jensen.

Algae may halve Norway salmon production growth

Norway’s planned 4% growth in salmon production this year may be halved by harmful algal blooms which it is now estimated could be responsible for the deaths of up to eight million fish.

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The Fisheries Directorate said yesterday that the blooms in the north of the country had killed in the region of 11,600 tonnes of salmon worth NOK720 million (£65m).

But Norway’s Seafood Council has estimated that the eventual death toll could be much higher at eight million fish, or 40,000 tonnes.

Kolbjørn Giskeødegård, chief analyst at Nordea Markets, told Fish Farming Expert’s sister site, Kyst.no, said it was a little too early to say how much the blooms will cost fish farmers.

NOK2 billion losses

He added: “If the number of fish lost is eight million, this corresponds to about 40,000 tonnes and a minimum of NOK2 billion in losses.”

The analyst believes the algal blooms can have serious consequences for production growth in the industry, and says it is not unthinkable that growth from Norway can be halved.

“It is a bit dependent on how many of the lost fish would have been slaughtered in 2019 and how many in 2020, and not least how many individuals are actually lost when the bloom is over.”

A krone higher

Asked how this could affect global prices, Giskeødegård said: “One percent to 2% lower global supply growth will normally yield a krone (per kilo) higher salmon price, but there are many factors in play ­- it can be a stronger or weaker effect than this in practice.”

Norway exported 1.24 million tonnes of salmon in 2018, up 2.5% from 2017, according to data from Statistics Norway.