ICELAND’S largest fish farming company has been working this week to limit the damage from what could have been a potentially serious net pen failure in the north west of the country.
However, the company, Arnarlax, appears to have contained the damage and while it is not known how many fish – if any – have escaped, the number is thought to be fairly small.
The incident was immediately reported to the Icelandic Food Administration and to the Directorate of Fisheries, which are carrying out their own investigation.
Net pen breaches and fish escapes are relatively uncommon in Iceland, but could become emotive because of the highly vocal wild salmon fishing lobby.
A number of salmon farming companies in the country have major growth plans in place over the next couple of years and this has triggered a big debate.
Looking at the wealth it has created in Norway, the government wants to see aquaculture expand, and so do those often isolated coastal communities where new farms are planned because they will create stable long term employment.
Arnarlax, which is part Norwegian owned, harvested around 10,000 tonnes of salmon last year.
The incident took place at the Arnarlax salmon farm in Tálknafjörður, a small village community of around 300 people in the Westfjords region.
Food administration experts are now surveying the damage and are expected to publish their assessments later.
Arnarlax has said in a statement that holes in the pens were found by two of their employees during a routine inspection.
‘Immediate response plans were initiated and appropriate action was taken to prevent fish from escaping,’ the company said. It believes the most likely cause was a failure in the net pen lifting system.
The statement added: ‘Arnarlax wishes to thank the Directorate of Fisheries for its professional workmanship and good relations, as well as thanking Arnarlax staff for their prompt response.
‘All the proper procedures were followed and the response plans worked correctly.’