Lerøy's Kjærelva smolt facility.

Nearly half a million fish die at Lerøy smolt plant

Mass mortality event is second to occur at land-based facility


A salmon smolt facility operated by Norwegian salmon farmer Lerøy has experienced a second mass mortality of fish in the space of a few months.

The company's south Norway division, Lerøy Sjøtroll, said 490,000 out of 1.9 million smolts died in its Kjærelva facility in Fitjar municipality in Sunnhordaland at the beginning of March due to challenges with water quality.

Lerøy Sjøtroll had an acute mortality event at the same smolt facility in October, where 1.9 million fish died.

Lerøy has permission to produce 20,000,000 salmon and rainbow trout a year at the plant. The company itself has previously stated that the facility has an annual capacity of 1,500 tonnes/12.5 million smolts.

Moved survivors

In the incident earlier this month, staff immediately implemented measures and moved surviving smolts into different tanks and a new water environment.

“We take this incident very seriously and have reported the matter to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority,” the company said in a press release.

Morten Fjæreide: "I am proud of the employees who have shown energy and quickly gained control."

“Lerøy’s professionals will collaborate with external knowledge communities to find the root cause. Although we have the situation under control now, it is too early to say anything about the cause and go into more detail about the course of events. We assure you that we take our responsibility in this situation, and we are now focusing on securing the health of the remaining fish and preventing further incidents. The fish that have been moved seem to have recovered quickly and show an increased appetite.”


This week, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority will carry out inspections at Kjærelva. Lerøy Sjøtroll general manager Morten Fjæreide said he is looking forward to the inspection and emphasised the importance of continuing good dialogue and cooperation with the Authority and external knowledge communities to identify the reason behind the incidents and prevent them happening again.

“This has been demanding for our employees,” said Fjæreide. “I am proud of the employees who have shown energy and quickly gained control of the situation. We are determined to learn valuable lessons from this situation.”