Escaped fish

Escaped farmed salmon can interbreed with wild salmon in the rivers and thus may have negative impact on the wild salmon. Sterile farmed salmon cannot interbreed with wild salmon. Trials with sterile farmed salmon are in progress, but some challenges, especially related to fish health, remain before the authorities may require the compulsory use of sterile farmed salmon in commercial fish farming. The number of escaped salmon and escape incidents varies from year to year,however the trend is that both numbers are declining. To prevent escaped incidents the most important measures are to impose strict requirements to the design of the fish farming facilities and to have good operating routines.

Escaped farmed salmon can interbreed with wild salmon in the rivers and thus may have negative impact on the wild salmon. Sterile farmed salmon cannot interbreed with wild salmon. Trials with sterile farmed salmon are in progress, but some challenges, especially related to fish health, remain before the authorities may require the compulsory use of sterile farmed salmon in commercial fish farming. The number of escaped salmon and escape incidents varies from year to year,however the trend is that both numbers are declining. To prevent escaped incidents the most important measures are to impose strict requirements to the design of the fish farming facilities and to have good operating routines.

Fish farmers are required to immediately report any suspicion of escapes to the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries. They are also required to take steps to capture escaped fish. Failing to report suspected escapes is a criminal offence. The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries publishes all information on its website. Reports of escapes and escape statistics going back several years can be found here in Norwegian.

Since the special requirements to the design of floating fish farms (NS 9415:2009) were introduced, equipment damage/failures have become more and more rare. Thus far there have not been similar requirements for onshore (young fish) facilities. However, requirements for such facilities have now been prepared (NS 9416:2013). This can form the basis for corresponding regulatory requirements as those for floating facilities. 

In support of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, there is a technical commission in which members have special competencies to study and analyse escape events and learn from these. In recent years, the authorities have strengthened monitoring activities significantly to prevent escapes.