Arnarlax facing heavy fine for fish escapes

Arnarlax, Iceland’s largest salmon farming company, has been fined ISK 120 million (about £705,000) following the loss of fish in an important fjord.

The company has launched an immediate appeal.

Mast, Iceland’s food and veterinary authority, said the administrative fine was for failing to report the loss of the fish.

Mast said: “During the slaughtering of sea pen 11 at Haganes in Arnarfjörður last October, it became clear that the company could not account for the fate of at least 81,564 salmon.

“A total of 132,976 salmon had been placed in the hatchery in October 2020 and July 2021.

“Recorded discards were 33,097 fish, but in October 2022, when the hatchery was slaughtered, the number that came out of the hatchery turned out to be only 18,315 salmon.”

Mast said that Arnarlax, which is owned by the Norwegian salmon giant SalMar, announced in August last year, that a hole had been found in one of the pens. The response was in accordance with requirements.

But when the numbers from the slaughter last October were revealed it was clear that it was not possible to account for the fate of more than 80,000 salmon.

“MAST immediately started an investigation and… demanded, among other things, an explanation of the discrepancy in feeding, including the stated number of fish in the hatchery.

“It was then revealed that there had been significant deviations in the feeding of pen 11 since June 2021, or two months before the announcement of a hole in the pen last summer, which should have raised strong suspicions in the company that something serious was afoot.”

Mast said it considers the incident a serious violation, both in terms of the scope and danger to wild commercial stocks and the environment.

It also believes such a violation could have been prevented by better management and internal control.

Arnarlax said at the weekend that the basis of its appeal will be on the grounds that all the company’s response processes had been followed to the fullest, as well as laws and regulations- both before the accident and after it.

The company added: “Arnarlax is very sorry that salmon escaped from the company’s cage, but the staff works hard every day to prevent this from happening. Although Arnarlax believes that procedures were followed in the case in question, the company will learn from this accident.”

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