Escaped Lerøy salmon may be diseased, experts fear

net over salmon pen

Some of the fish that escaped from a Lerøy Seafood facility in Norway could be carrying serious diseases, it is being reported.

Some 14,000 salmon with an average weight of just over seven kilos got out of a Lerøy Midt facility in the Hitra municipality a few days ago.

It has now been disclosed in the Norwegian press that bacterial kidney disease (BKD) and the pancreatic disease (PD) have been detected at the site.

Biologists have said that because the salmon are so large, virtually at slaughter weight, many of them will end up in local rivers. They maintain there is a high risk of wild fish becoming infected. If BKD spreads this could pose a threat to wild salmon.

Lerøy Midt said yesterday it has an emergency plan, which it has been able to put into action. This included putting out recapture nets and more of these will be deployed later today.

The company added: “This should not happen. We have a vision of zero escapes and take this very seriously.

“Lerøy has its own environmental and safety group which has now started work to determine the cause of the escape. Our priority now is to limit the extent of the damage and learn from the incident to avoid future escapes.”

“We know that the salmon is close to the red list and that BKD can cause mortality to fry, so this is serious,” said Professor Are Nylund, Professor of Fish Health at the University of Bergen, to the Norwegian news site Dagbladet, through its Børsen channel.

He added: “All cases of escaped salmon are serious, but it is especially serious when it is infected with a disease that can lead to infection of fry.”

The site has since been closed by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, while further tests are carried out.


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