Farming takes up a larger share of the sea areas than before – Norway is increasing the most – NRK Troms and Finnmark

The Institute of Marine Research and the University of Melbourne have mapped farming in countries that produce seafood.

Norway stands out.

No other country has a larger increase in the area used by the fish farms.

While other seafood nations such as Chile and Scotland have an increase of between 30 and 80 percent, the growth in Norway is as much as 221 percent. That is, over a tripling.

The researchers state that the aquaculture industry uses more of the sea areas than before.

– The cages are larger, and the distance between them has increased considerably, says researcher Frode Oppedal at the Institute of Marine Research to NRK.

Researcher Frode Oppedal.

Photo: Institute of Marine Research

Discharges more sewage

Using satellite images, the researchers have seen that the cages in which the fish swim are almost twice as large as they were in 2005. This offers both advantages and disadvantages.

– The probability of escape is less when you have large units. But the consequences are greater if you get an escape, says Oppedal.

Larger fish farms also discharge more sewage, in the form of fish poop.

– If you look at the environment, it will be easier to get the fish poop out of a smaller cage. A larger cage requires much more water flow for the same thing to happen.

Farming facilities in Vanylven in 2007 compared to 2018.

Norgeibilder / Institute of Marine Research

Oppedal believes there is a limit to how big the cages can be in the long run. He refers to plans for large fish farms out at sea.

– You must have enough water flow in relation to the fish biomass you have there. And that limit can be quickly exceeded.

Better profitability

When the cages get bigger, there is also room for more fish.

At the same time, there may be lower staffing at fewer and larger facilities. It increases the profitability of the breeders.

15-20 years ago, we put maybe 50,000 fish in a 90-meter cage. Today we put a little over 100,000 fish in a 130 meter cage, says general manager Odd Bekkeli in the fish farming company Salaks.

One of Salak's breeding sites.

The fish farming company Salaks currently uses cages that are three times larger than in 1985.

Photo: Øivind Arvola

In the mid-80s, it was common for 40-meter fish cages. Today it is over 100 meters in circumference that applies.

Previously, the fish often had the first phase in the sea in smaller cages, before they were transferred to larger cages. We now avoid relocation that is beneficial from a fish health perspective, says Bekkeli.

New safety requirements

Farming facilities also contain more technology than before, according to Seafood Norway. Lasers used to remove salmon lice are one example.

– In some units you can have three or four. Then you have to have bigger cages, says communications manager Øyvind André Haram.

But he emphasizes that the main reason for larger fish farms is not technology, but that many smaller farms are grouped into larger units. INfollow the interest organization of the seafood industry the area they are on is utilized better than before. Efficiency, safety and profitability are among the reasons.

Haram says they now have new routines to prevent fish escapes.

– That with safety and security was a prerequisite for when the industry was further developed. We have a clear goal of zero vision on escape.

Øyvind Andre Haram

Communications Manager Øyvind André Haram in Seafood Norway.

Photo: Seafood Norway

The fish farmers have requirements for monitoring the bottom conditions in the vicinity of the fish farms, according to the Norwegian Environment Agency.

– If you influence too much, you can ultimately be told that you can not be here, says Haram.

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