Norway tells industry to finance catching efforts of escaped farmed fish
6 February 2015
Norway is introducing new rules that will systematically ensure that fish farmers pay for the recapturing efforts of fish that have escaped from farms, including in cases where the fish’s owners are not known.
This will be done through a new independent association which all fish farms will be required to join. Farms that mark their fish will be exempt from membership fees.
The new regulation will also increase monitoring efforts of escaped fish in rivers across the country.
“For the first time we will have in place financing for systematic fishing or for other measures to remove escaped fish,” said fisheries minister Elisabeth Aspaker in a statement. “It’s a big step in the right direction to reduce the genetic impact escaped farmed fish might have on wild salmon.”
The new rules abide to the principle that “polluters must pay” in the aquaculture industry, said the fisheries and industry ministry.
The new regulation will ensure that measures are put in place in rivers where the number of escaped farmed fish is high.
It will also make sure financing is provided to recapture escaped fish in cases where the owner of the escaped fish is unknown, also in the sea. That is a first in Norway; under current regulations, farms are only required to finance recapturing efforts if they are identified as the source of the escape.
“The new scheme ensures that the industry also get a bill when the owner is unknown,” said the ministry. “An independent association will be created, for which membership will be compulsory.”
The bill builds on the Norwegian Seafood Federation’s environmental fund, it said. “This solution will contribute to make the industry responsible at the same time as we get a scheme that is efficient to administer,” said Aspaker.
Under the new system, government authorities will be responsible for monitoring escaped farmed salmon in rivers.
Fisheries authorities in cooperation with environmental authorities will be responsible for determining which rivers shall be monitored from year to year. It is this monitoring that shall be applied when the number of escaped fish in the rivers are estimated.
Until now, such monitoring efforts have only covered a small number of rivers. Since last year, however, the government has significantly increased funding for those efforts, said the ministry.
“Fish is Norway’s foremost contribution to worldwide food production, and aquaculture can become a large and important industry for the future of Norway. But it is crucial for growth that production happens in a sustainably defensible manner,” said Aspaker.
The decision to remove membership fees for farms that mark their fish is intended as an incentive for marking of farmed fish. “The time is not ripe to introduce compulsory marking,” noted Aspaker.