Salmar accepts record fine in wake of spot inspection

Editorial staff

The salmon farming giant will not contest the fine.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) has concluded an investigation into salmon farming giant Salmar resulting in a record fine, the country’s public broadcaster NRK reported Wednesday.

The case arose following an unannounced inspection that took place in April on the Trondelag coast in central Norway by Mattilsynet and the Coast Guard.

During their inspection, the Food Safety Authority found a large number of diseased fish with extensive injuries, including winter sores.

The proposed fine, NOK 1.7 million (£130,000) is the maximum penalty Mattilsynet can levy.

In its judgment, the regulatory body criticised the company for allowing the injured fish to continue to live, rather than incur the cost of harvesting out the animals.

“In this case, our assessment is that you have placed too much emphasis on reducing economic losses, and have not considered large, open wounds on a large number of salmon in relation to fish welfare,” wrote the body.

In a statement posted on the company’s website, Salmar responded:

“Given the complex health situation faced, Salmar strongly disagrees with the decision to impose this fine. Salmar chose not to slaughter all fish in the pen to prevent killing many unaffected by winter sores. Although the Food Safety Authority’s subsequent evaluation differed, Salmar will not contest the fine. The company remains committed to enhancing animal welfare in partnership with the fish health service and Mattilsynet.”

Winter sores often occur after farmed salmon are exposed to lice treatments, which can result in damage to the fish’s skin as wells as physiological stress.

Salmon badly affected by winter sores are routinely downgraded to ‘production fish’ status and their price reduced. Legally, production fish cannot be exported unprocessed from Norway.

Winter sores afflicting farmed salmon are costing the Norwegian industry as much as NOK 8 billion (£600 million) a year, according to Trondheim-based aquaculture consultancy Fiizk.