OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s fish farming industry must cut mortality rates to improve animal welfare and protect their reputation and profits, the country’s fisheries minister told industry executives on Tuesday.
While the survival of salmon in cages can vary greatly between individual farming sites, some 15-20 percent of the fish dies every year, according to the Food Safety Authority, up from 10-12 percent in 2012, due to outbreaks of sea lice and disease.
“To bring down the mortality is something everyone will benefit from, primarily the fish but also the fish farmers’ bottom line, and not at least their reputation,” Fisheries Minister Per Sandberg said.
Later on Tuesday the minister will travel to China to promote Norwegian seafood, in the hope of boosting what is still a small market for salmon.
“Believe me, in the future the demands for quality in Norwegian seafood will be even higher,” Sandberg said, adding that high standards will be required in the long run to maintain market access.
Seafood Norway, a state-owned marketing organisation representing more than 550 Norwegian seafood companies, said it shared the minister’s ambition to cut mortality rates but declined to quantify a target.
Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord, editing by Terje Solsvik