MILLIONS of salmon were moved in a dramatic operation over the weekend to stop them from being suffocated by the algae outbreak now sweeping through fjords along parts of the north Norwegian coast.
Already more than 13,000 tonnes, or 7.5 million salmon, have died in the Nordland and Troms region as a result of the most devastating algae bloom for 28 years.
But while the crisis is still far from over, and large amounts of algae were evident in both regions, there were some tentative indications yesterday that the outbreak may have peaked.
Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries said on Sunday that new mortality had been reported in Troms, and while there were still reports of deaths in Nordland, they were less than those a week ago.
Communications director Anette Aase said: ‘We are hoping that the algae bloom is on the retreat, but we are not taking anything for granted and full preparedness has been in place at the Directorate all over the weekend.’
Meanwhile, in a battle against the clock, several companies have already taken matters into their own hands, moving fish away from the affected areas to cages in safer locations.
They include Nordlaks, Ellingsen Seafood, Lerøy Aurora and Nordnorsk Stamfisk, and it is thought that millions of fish have been saved.
The salmon are being transferred by well boats in an operation lasting between 18 and 24 hours.
Line Ellingsen of Ellingsen Seafood said the company has already managed to save 850,000 fish worth 250 million kroner.
‘It has been a desperate battle against the clock, but the evacuation so far has gone well. We are doing what we can to avoid further losses,’ she told the website and journal DN.no.
In the rescue, which began last Thursday and continued throughout the weekend, Nordlaks managed to empty a site at Våtvika of 1.5 million salmon, while fish from another site at Kalvhoved have also been moved.
Norway’s fisheries minister, Harald T. Nesvik, said he plans to discuss the crisis with the salmon companies once they have completed their rescue bid.