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The escape at the SalMar site increases the number of escaped salmon in 2020 by more than 50%. Photo: SalMar
The escape at the SalMar site increases the number of escaped salmon in 2020 by more than 50%. Photo: SalMar

An escape incident at a SalMar salmon farm in Norway last month led to the release of around 11,500 fish, the company said this week.

SalMar, one of Norway’s biggest salmon farmers, reported the escape at the Solværet site in Smøla municipality in Møre og Romsdal on November 23. A relatively large hole was discovered in a cage net after a storm.

This week, the company completed the count of the remaining fish in the pen and worked out that about 11,500 farmed salmon had escaped. SalMar has so far recaptured 53 farmed salmon. The fish that escaped had an average weight of 2.3 kilos.

Lower than last year

Statistics from the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate show that so far this year, 20,036 farmed fish have escaped in Norway. The addition of the SalMar total will increase that number by more than 50%, but the number of escapes and escaped fish is much lower in 2019. 

“Farmers have so far reported fewer major escapes this year compared to last year, but it is too early to conclude before we get final figures in place,” Monika Haugland, a senior adviser with the Fisheries Directorate previously told Fish Farming Expert’s Norwegian sister site, Kyst.no.

Fisheries and seafood minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen recently had a meeting with the trade organisations to discuss the challenges of escapes and fish welfare in the aquaculture industry. There he said that escape is one of the most important environmental challenges for the aquaculture industry.