Probe into mass escape at cod farm

The Norwegian authorities have launched a detailed investigation into the escape of at least 87,000 cod from a fish farm in Norway almost three months ago.

The fish, weighing an average of 600 grams got out at the Alida site in Volda Municipality, north of Bergen, which is operated by the Gadus group.

The circumstances of the escape at the end of September are not yet clear, but the authorities are worried that the farmed fish are mixing with wild coastal cod.

Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries ordered Gadus to carry out a detailed count of the number of escaped fish with the results showing that approximately 87,000 cod swam loose from three cages.

As of last week the company had only been able to recapture 408 fish, but the Directorate said it was receiving information from recreational fishermen that they have been catching farmed cod in a nearby fjord.

It added: “In order to increase the knowledge base related to the environmental consequences of cod escapes, the Directorate of Fisheries is collaborating with the Institute of Marine Research on data collection after the incident. We have also started a test fishery in the area and collected samples from the facility.”

It is only a few weeks ago that Gadus said it had achieved a record-breaking first harvest with fish exceeding expectations, reaching an average weight of 4.8 kg.

The company, which is hoping to produce at least 30,000 tonnes of cod a year by 2025, operates from seven sites in Norway and employs 80 people.