Cermaq's Olderfjord site.

Cermaq culling 900,000 fish with wounds

Salmon in six pens at the Olderfjord in Hammerfest, Norway, are being euthanised due to bacterial wound infection and reduced fish welfare


“Due to a demanding fish health situation that has developed over time, we have, after a long period of dialogue and consultation with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, unfortunately decided to remove, stun and euthanise the fish in six of the cages at the facility,” said Gunnar Gudmundsson, regional director of Cermaq Finnmark, in a press release.

“This has been a desperate situation, where we have seen increased mortality in these cages since the beginning of January this year, as a result of string jellyfish and a period of storms which has subsequently led to a bacterial wound infection.”

Gudmundsson added that Cermaq, which is owned by Japanese industrial giant Mitsubishi, has had a close dialogue with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and had implemented measures to improve the situation, with increased withdrawals of weakened and dead fish. Despite this, the company saw no other solution than killing the fish.

No other option

“Despite measures, the situation has not changed and considering the time of year and low sea temperatures, we fear a further deterioration,” said Gudmundsson.

“As the situation is now, we also cannot see that there are any other measures or treatment that will improve the state of health. Therefore, we unfortunately find ourselves forced to kill the fish in these cages. It is a difficult decision as there are also many individuals in these cages that show normal behaviour and appetite. At the same time, we fear that infection from the six cages could spread to the rest of the cages in the facility, and have therefore requested permission from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority to cull the fish in these six cages.

“We think this is very sad, but at the same time unfortunately necessary. For the sake of fish welfare, it is right to kill the fish in a controlled and humane way. Following confirmation from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, we have taken out all the fish in the six cages, and they will be emptied within a few days. The fish at the facility are approximately 500 grams. In total, there are approximately 900,000 fish in the six cages.”