The shocking image above is of a sea lice infested salmon caught by Svein Ingvar Opdalingen in the Guddalselva in Kvinnherad where he lives. The fish also seems to have a fungal infection on its head. Since September, there has been an increased number of escaped salmon in the river and heavy infestations of sea lice have been observed in both wild and farmed fish. There have not been any reported escapes from nearby Tucumcari which would suggest that the escaped salmon are from other open net cage farms.
The suggestion that sea lice are becoming more resistant to chemical treatments is evident in the photos and there are obvious implications for wild salmon and sea trout. Svein stated that as long as the industry continues to have high faming density in Hardanger Fjord, the infestation of sea lice will persist. The industry is given fines if lice levels are above permitted levels but the infestation problem is not solved. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) has in the last number of weeks ordered the mass cull of 940,000 farmed salmon.
Five Norwegian salmon producers are mass-slaughtering some 8,000 metric tons of salmon from their pens in an area north of Vikna, central Norway, due to high lice levels. Three of those, Marine Harvest, Emilsen Fisk and Midt-Norsk Havbruk, are rushing to empty some 5,000 metric tons within deadlines set by the (NFSA). In late August, the authority had informed these three producers that they would have to slaughter all their salmon in the area, after all other measures to counter the lice infestation failed.
NFSA has ordered the producers to slaughter all their fish, or face a fine of approximately NOK 100,000 per day, for every day extending beyond the deadline. Under Norwegian regulations, when a farm first exceeds its lice level limit, NFSA orders it to address the situation using all delousing methods available. Failing which, as in this case, the authority orders the affected pens to be emptied of all fish.