Edgar Brun: "Both in number and percentage of mortality, these are the highest figures we have recorded."

A record number of farmed salmon died in pens in Norway last year

The country’s Veterinary Institute reports that 62.7 million dead farmed salmon were registered in the sea phase in 2023, a mortality rate of 16.7%


“The figures for 2023 show what we have seen in recent years, that we are not seeing any decrease in mortality. Both in terms of number and percentage of mortality, these are the highest figures we have recorded so far,” said Edgar Brun, the Veterinary Institute’s director for fish health and fish welfare, on the organisation’s website.

In 2023, the mortality rate for salmon in the sea phase was 16.7%, up from 16.1% in 2022. The number in 2023 was 62.7 million dead farmed salmon, an increase of 6 million from 2022. There are approximately 700,000 fish which have not yet been categorised and which may contribute to a minor correction of these overall figures.

The figures are from the Directorate of Fisheries, and show reported data as of 22 January 2024. Norwegian salmon farming is divided into 13 production areas, from 1 in the south to 13 in the north. Production area 3 (Karmøy to Sotra) had the highest mortality in 2023 with 25%, while production area 13 (East Finnmark) and 1 (Swedish border to Jæren) both had below 10%.

Initiatives taken

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute uses an epidemiological calculation method for mortality which takes into account that the number of fish in the cages varies over time.

“Last year brought a change of pace in terms of attention to the health, welfare and mortality of farmed fish, and initiatives were taken in the industry and administration to improve the situation. We will return to what is behind the mortality in 2023 and other conditions that affect the health and welfare of Norwegian farmed fish in the Fish Health Report,” said Brun.

That report will be presented at an event in Bergen on March 12.