NGOs seek to stop the expansion of open net salmon farms in Iceland

Von NNA staff

An alliance of NGOs is seeking to stop the expansion of open net salmon farms in the fjords of Iceland which threaten the survival of wild salmon. A petition calling for a ban has so far raised over 137,400 signatures.

BRUSSELS (NNA) – “Concerned citizens from across Europe” are being urged to bring a halt to the devastation of wild fish and surrounding ecosystems caused by open net salmon farms.

 A petition on YouMove.EU directed at governments and members of parliament in Iceland, Norway, Scotland and Ireland is calling for an immediate ban on new open net farms and a commitment to phasing out existing ones everywhere.  

The immediate target of the petition, “Stop Europe’s Dirty Fish Farms”, is Iceland where “pristine fjords” were home to an abundance of marine life, but where they were now “seriously threatened by the expansion of massive open net salmon farms”. Fragile coastal ecosystems around Norway, Scotland and Ireland were already suffering from the “disastrous effects” of this growing industry.

NGOs supporting the petition are North Atlantic Salmon Fund Iceland, Redd Villaksen - NASF Norway,
Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland and Salmon Watch Ireland.

In Iceland, the parliament was about to vote on a bill that could allow the world’s biggest aquaculture companies to farm “vast amounts of salmon in open nets”, the petition says. Local groups were fighting to change it and were calling on citizens across Europe for support.

The initiators intend to hand the petition to the Icelandic Parliament ahead of the crucial vote and also to key decision makers in Norway, Scotland and Ireland.


In the latter countries, salmon farming was run by big corporations and wielded a similar power as the oil industry, the petition adds.

“Environmental organisations have been pushing back against the use of open nets for many years and finally governments are realising that action is needed, but they are not moving fast enough. If we want to protect the wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout that many coastal and river communities depend on -- we need to stop these destructive fish farms,” it says.

There are signs that governments are starting to be willing to act to stop the threat to their coastal ecosystems. Last year, the US state of Washington passed a law to ban Atlantic salmon farming in state waters after net pens collapsed in 2017, releasing an estimated 250,000 Atlantic salmon into Pacific waters.

A documentary film is currently being shown in selected venues across Europe which sets out the negative consequences of open net fish farming. The makers describe Artifishal as a film about people, rivers, and the fight for the future of wild fish and the environment that supports them. It explored wild salmon’s slide toward extinction, threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms, and our continued loss of faith in nature.


Item: 190621-01EN Date: 21 June 2019

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