Spear fishing the best way to remove escaped farmed salmon says new study

Editorial Staff

Spear fishing is particularly effective against large, sexually mature escaped salmon ready to spawn, says new report. 

A new report by independent research institute Norce suggests that spear fishing is the most effective way to remove escaped farmed salmon from spawning grounds.

The recommendation follows extensive research conducted by Helge Skoglund and colleagues at the Laboratory for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (LFI).

Farmed salmon that escape and spawn with the wild salmon pose a significant threat to the Norwegian wild salmon stocks.

“The farmed salmon is genetically different from the wild salmon, because it has been bred to grow faster and adapted to a life in a farming environment. If it mates with the wild salmon, the genetics of the wild salmon changes, and causes the wild populations to become less viable,” said Skoglund

Norce announced in a press release on Tuesday that harpoon hunting by snorkeling outperformed traditional rod fishing methods for removing larger, sexually mature fish.

“We have managed to remove 53 percent of all observed farmed salmon in the rivers we have monitored since 2012,” said Skoglund.

Despite initial skepticism about the method, Norce emphasized the importance of gathering data to validate its effectiveness both in Norway and internationally, including in Iceland where they have assisted in catching escaped farmed salmon.

Tens of millions of farmed salmon have escaped from sites over the years, but a recent report from the Institute of Marine Research shows that the proportion of escaped farmed salmon in the rivers is the lowest since monitoring began in 2014.

Skoglund emphasized that the farmed salmon are killed quickly after they have been speared so that the animal suffers as little as possible, in line with welfare guidance.


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