October 3, 2003
FARMED ESCAPEES ENTER ICELANDIC RIVERS -
NOW CONFIRMED OF NORWEGIAN ORIGIN
Farmed escapee salmon thought to be of Norwegian origin (now confirmed) have started entering the premium clear water rivers in Iceland. Already a salmon was caught in the middle reaches of the famous Selá river on the east coast of Iceland. The Selá river is considered in the top rank of the world´s best rivers. It is a model river reflecting the best of wild salmon management in accordance with principles introduced by the North Atlantic Salmon Fund.
Orri Vigfússon, the chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund who is also the chairman of the River Selá Syndicate Strengur said that the first salmon had been caught about six kilometers up river. It was a 77 cm long cockfish and weighed 4,8 kilos.
Experts quickly and easily identified the salmon of farmed origin and it is strongly believed the salmon is of Norwegian stock which the fishfarmers are trying to force into their fish farms in Iceland despite huge protests from conservationists and river owners. Six weeks ago the fishfarmers in the neighbourhood admitted that 3,000 Norwegian salmon had escaped from their farm pen in the vicinity of some of the famous Icelandic rivers Selá, Hofsá (where HRH The Prince of Wales used to fish), Vesturdalsá and Breiðdalsá. One of the escapees was tagged with a number from the very salmon farm in question.
Icelandic authorities have in the past flatly rejected environmental impact assessment, any statistical monitoring and and the river owners are having a fierce row with the Director of Fisheries and Fish Desease Vetenary Officer who have actively been promoting relaxed or no regulation atmosphere in this infamous industry in Iceland. The Minister of Agriculture in Iceland has ignored all requests for information that may lead to proper monitoring of the salmon farms and in order to help the salmon farmers is trying to get the Icelandic Parliament to allow him free transfer and imports of Norwegian salmon to Iceland.
Icelandic river owners and the North Atlantic Salmon Fund groups are in a state of panick. Icelandic rivers are reputed to have a capital value of US$400-million and produce annually the major share of income for 1800 estates in the rural communities of Iceland.
Orri Vigfússon says he has demanded a full enquiry, a DNA-research into the origin of the escapees and a new range of regulations for this industry in Iceland. We fear that the Norwegian strain will pick up diseases and viruses that are lethal for the fragile Icelandic salmon stocks. “ It is vital that the purity of their environment never becomes compromised.”
Wild Atlantic salmon numbers are at an all-time low and the fish is now regarded as threatened or an endangered species in Europe and the USA. The North Atlantic Salmon Fund (Tel: +354-568 6277) is an international organisation dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon.