Iceland wild salmon threat ‘negligible’

Fish farming in Iceland

PLANS to breed up to 10,000 tonnes of salmon on Iceland’s west coast would have an ‘insignificant’ impact on wild salmon or general marine life, an official report has concluded.

The findings will be seen as a boost for the country’s growing aquaculture sector and a strong riposte to its environmental lobby which frequently opposes most new fish farming applications. The company Arnarlax submitted the application several months ago in a move which would greatly expand aquaculture in the Isafjörður region.

Now a preliminary assessment report by consulting engineers Verkis and published on the Icelandic Planning Agency website appears to have signalled a green light for the project.

The report says:

‘Taking into account mitigation measures and targeted monitoring, the effects on natural salmon stocks when it comes fish diseases and salmon lice are likely to be insignificant. These effects would be the same regardless of whether fresh or infertile salmon is used.

‘Taking into account mitigation measures, it is considered unlikely that the proposed farming of fertile salmon harms wild salmon stocks with regard to the risk of genetic mixing.’

The report finds that any impact is likely to ‘be at the most negligible’ on natural or wild salmon and whitefish and shrimp stocks in the area. It says that in the unlikely event of any adverse effects, these could be kept local and easily reversed, adding that synergies could be combined with other fish farming activities by other companies in the area.

The report also suggests that the Arnarlax project would bring significant economic benefits to an area of Iceland which has lost much of its traditional fishing industry over the past few years.