Disease was present at fish farm where 14,000 salmon escaped

BKD and PD had been diagnosed at Lerøy site


Bacterial kidney disease (BKD) and pancreas disease (PD) had been detected at a Norwegian fish farm site from which almost 14,000 salmon escaped, site operator Lerøy has confirmed.

A tear in the net of a pen containing harvest-ready fish with an average weight of 7.3 kg was discovered at the Reitholmen farm in Fillfjorden in Hitra municipality on the evening of Sunday, May 5.

“It is true that we have been diagnosed with the two diseases in that locality,” Harald Larssen, general manager in Lerøy Midt, told Børsen, the financial website of Dagbladet.

The diagnoses led to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority imposing extra strict security measures, including for biosecurity and how the fish must be transported, to prevent the infections from spreading.

Recapture nets

Are Nylund, professor of fish health at the University of Bergen, told Børsen that the large size of the escaped fish means they are more likely to head for rivers than the sea, and may infect wild salmon.

Lerøy implemented a contingency plan to recapture the escaped fish on Sunday night, setting out more than 1,500 metres of recapture nets.

Several thousand metres more were put out during Monday, and more were being put out yesterday.

The company also has agreements with local fishermen from whom it has asked for assistance.

Larssen said: “We deeply regret the incident. This should not happen. We have a vision of zero escapes and take this very seriously. Lerøy has its own environmental and safety group which has now started work to determine the cause of the escape. Our priority now is to limit the extent of the damage and learn from the incident to avoid future escapes.”