Over two-thirds of all salmon and trout that escaped last year in Norway belonged to this salmon farmer

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142,975 salmon and 674 rainbow trout escaped from Norwegian pens in 2018.

2017’s record low gave the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries a reason to be cautiously optimistic. But 2018’s number of escaped fish is now back to a six-digit number.

In 2018, the Directorate of Fisheries received 42 reports on escapes from fish farmers, bringing the number to a total of 143,649 fish at the end of December. The figures are preliminary and adjusted on an ongoing basis.

Over 100,000 fish escaped from Mowi
Mowi had the most escapes in 2018. In June last year, the company had imposed on it a two-year environmental monitoring in eight rivers after extensive escapes during the winter. In the beginning of February last year, 54,000 salmon escaped from the Geitryggen locality in Nærøy municipality, Mid-Norway. Shortly after, around 52,000 fish escaped from the Austvika locality in Flatanger municipality, Mid-Norway.

“Mowi works systematically throughout the organisation to prevent fish escaping from our facilities. Nevertheless, 2018 was unfortunately a bad escape for us. We have gone through the events of last year and implemented the necessary changes to prevent similar things from happening again. Although it is demanding and will mean major changes, we are sure that we will be able to reach our goal of no escapes from Mowi nets,” wrote Mowi’s communications manager, Ola Helge Hjetland, in an e-mail to SalmonBusiness.

Ola Helge Hjetland. PHOTO: Mowi

SalMar escapes
But before Mowi’s two major incidents, in January last year, the Directorate of Fisheries received four escapes from sites in Hordaland (Bergan) and Sogn og Fjordane counties in Central Norway.

One of the most remarkable escapes occurred after SalMar’s “Ocean 1” structure started to accidentally tilt in September. The extent of the escape will not be clear until the plant is finished. The Directorate of Fisheries stated earlier that they cannot exclude that the scope is significant.

In October, the Directorate of Fisheries initiated extensive measures after receiving a high number of tips on escaped farmed salmon in Central Norway. In December, section manager Ruth Lillian Kjæmpenes said investigators in the Directorate of Fisheries Central region struggled to find the sources of the escape.

Just before Christmas, salmon farmer Lingalaks reported escapes after a net was damaged.