Three farmed salmon have been caught in the Westfjords this season, RÚV reports. The three fish were caught in Laugardalsá and Selá rivers which empty into Ísafjarðardjúp and Staðará river which ends at Steingrímsfjörður fjord.
Fish farming is a growing industry in Iceland. Open-net fish farms have been a topic of debate in the country due to their impact on the surrounding marine environment.
The Marine and Freshwater Research Institute issued a statement on August 31 addressing the escaped fish which had turned up on fishermen’s rods. “This amount of farmed salmon in rivers in these areas is in line with what the genetic introgression risk assessment allows, based on the current extent of open-net farming here in the country,” the statement reads. “The proportion of farmed salmon in these rivers is, considering that amount of salmon, well under the levels that would endanger the genetic composition of wild stocks.”
Leó Alexander Guðmundsson, a biologist at the Institute told Vísir that the fish could be just the tip of the iceberg. Farmed salmon have a tendency to swim up rivers later in the season than wild salmon, meaning the true number of escapees may not be apparent until the end of the fishing season.
Pétur Pétursson, who holds fishing rights in Vatnsdalsá river in Northwest Iceland, believes one fish he recently caught in the river is a farm escapee. He is taking the fish to the Institute for analysis. Pétur believes the problem of escaped salmon will spread if no measures are taken. “It will be all over the country and people have to realise that we have to stop it. We have time to stop this now, and people just have to make a decision about it,” he stated. “Farm up on land, then it will be alright.”