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Algae is chief suspect in mass salmon mortality

24 September 2018, at 8:16am

An outbreak of algae – possibly caused by agricultural run-off – is suspected as the cause of 750,000 mortalities at a salmon farm in the Faroe Islands last week.


Bakkafrost reported the mortalities at farming site A-81 Kolbanagjógv on 20 September. The fish had an average weight of 500 grams and died within a couple of hours, having been released into the sea in June - August 2018.

Bakkafrost is the largest salmon producer in the Faroe Islands and one of the most profitable salmon producers in the world
Bakkafrost is the largest salmon producer in the Faroe Islands and one of the most profitable salmon producers in the world

A statement from Bakkafrost, which is the largest salmon producer in the archipelago, said: “It has not been possible to confirm the cause of the incident, but algae phaeocystis, pseudo-nitzscia and heterosigma were registered in the sea at farming site A-81 Kolbanagjógv on 20 September 2018, and the algae are suspected to have caused the mortality incident on 20 September 2018. It has also been confirmed that prior to and while the incident occurred, manure has been sprayed as fertilizer onto the infield only 200 meters from the farming site A-81 Kolbanagjógv. Continuous examinations are being done to confirm the cause of the sudden and short mortality incident.”

It’s the first time the company has experienced anything like it at the site, which has been farmed for 30 years. The fish were covered by insurance.

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The company plan to have finished removing all the morts by tomorrow and have registered nothing abnormal in the sea since the incident.

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