Governing the welfare of Norwegian farmed salmon: Three conflict cases

Studio Apertura

​To obtain insight into perceptions of how fish welfare and health is governed in Norwegian aquaculture, this study investigates three conflict cases: salmon lice, pancreas disease and farm siting. Using surveys and in-depth interviews, it highlights challenges and solutions as perceived from different professional groups. The results show that the current inflexible limit of the number of salmon lice permitted creates frustration, both among the farmers themselves and fish health personnel, and that many advocate means for making the regulations more in line with how much infection pressure a farm creates.

The regulators acknowledge that upholding salmon lice regulations may diminish animal welfare. Also, farmers and fish health professionals are concerned about the welfare impact of risky delousing operations. Where pancreas disease is concerned, many express their incredulity that a clearly welfare harming disease is permitted to be endemic in parts of Norway, while a positive diagnosis outside the endemic zone will lead to the fish farmers having to slaughter their fish. The case of farm siting was responsible for less conflict than expected.

Few expressed strong opinions, but some asked for an overall plan for farm positioning in order to limit spread of pathogens. All groups expressed a concern in that it is difficult to implement the necessary changes within the present framework. The overall problem seems to be that what is best for the single farmer or company in the short term, is often contrary to the common good and longterm benefit of the industry as a whole.