Norway brings in new regulations to stop escapes

Atlantic salmon

Norway is tightening the rules around the escape of farmed fish with important new requirements coming into force next year.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran said: “We have laid down a revised set of regulations that increases protection against fish escapes at the farms, while at the same time giving the industry more flexibility.”

Escapes were a major problem three years ago. The situation has improved considerably since then, although they still occur from time to time.

Known as the “NYTEK 23 regulation”, the rules replace the last NYTEK regulation from 10 years ago. The new regulation is designed to ensure there are proper technical standards are in place at the farms along the coast.

The Minister explained: “NYTEK 23 is a technology-neutral set of regulations. It facilitates freedom of choice, development and innovation better than the current regulations. I believe that it will benefit both the industry and the wild salmon.”

The regulations now contain new and overarching requirements on how planning, use and maintenance must ensure escape safety.

“In recent years, escapes have mainly occurred in connection with work operations and the operation itself. That is why we are also tightening the requirements for equipment used in contexts where fish have escaped,” Skjæran added.

“Technology neutral” means that the requirements are formulated so that breeders have more freedom to choose how they want to implement them.

The minister said: “The industry is constantly developing. It is absolutely crucial that the regulations do not stand in the way of developing new and better solutions. Better conditions for innovation and further development can contribute to even better escape safety in the long term.”

Several of those involved in the work of designing and operating aquaculture facilities have been given more responsibility in the new regulations.

Industry players must be able to document that they are meeting the requirements of the regulations.

The consequences of not following the regulations have also become greater. The new regulations will allow for fines to be imposed for breaches of the regulations in more cases than before.

“The best thing would of course be if there was never a need to impose a fee, but if serious breaches of the regulations are first uncovered that could lead to fish escaping, it is important that the administration has the opportunity to react,” Skjæran said.