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Smolt from Norway blamed for Russian disease


February 12, 2016
By Siri Elise Dybal

The leading aquaculture company in Russia is blaming smolt from Norwegian suppliers for a major outbreak of disease in the Kola Fjords last year, which led to a high number of mortalities.

Industry observers, however, blame other factors including fish densities exceeding recommended levels.

The salmon farming industry in the Kola Peninsula was crippled by disease in 2015, which led to mass mortalities in the fjords along Russia’s Barents Sea coast, according to reports in the Barents Observer.

The Russian Fishery Agency says that as much as 20,000 tons of fish died at fish farms in the Murmansk area during 2015.

According to the Russian newspaper Vedomosti, the firm Russian Aquaculture lost approximately one billion rubles due to disease-related problems. The company is Russia’s largest fish farming company and one of two aquaculture companies in the region.

The second firm, Russian Salmon, declared bankruptcy in November following losses of 1.5 billion owing to mass fish mortalities. Also blamed as a contributing factor was a major loss in value of the country’s currency. The company operated large-scale farms in the Pechenga Bay, a fjord located close to the Norwegian border.

Ilya Bereznyuk from Russian Aquaculture noted that his company suspects that smolt from neighbouring Norway was the source of the disease problems. The company is now considering a four billion ruble investment in the development of its own hatchery, Bereznyuk told the newspaper.

However, while Russian Aquaculture blames Norwegian suppliers for the salmon mortalities, the Barents Observer reports that there are also claims that mismanagement of the Russian sites are to blame, with more than twice as many fish as allowed for in their cages being a significant part of the problem.

  – Siri Elise Dybdal