Shouts warning about the wild ax: – Now a power grab is needed

The situation for Norwegian wild salmon is precarious. In recent years, the amount of wild salmon has been dramatically reduced.

At the beginning of the 1980s, more than one million wild salmon returned from the sea to the Norwegian rivers. Now the number is half, and the wild salmon catch is a third of what it was then.

Researchers are worried about the development.

Only one in five stocks is in good condition

Today, the Scientific Council for Salmon Management publishes its annual status report for wild salmon in Norway. It shows that the situation has not improved for the wild axis.

Only one in five of the salmon stocks is considered to be in good condition. Over a third of the stocks are considered to be in poor or very poor condition.

The stocks in Central Norway and Western Norway are most reduced, and the report states that negative effects of salmon farming are an important cause.

Now the researchers are shouting warnings.

– If we want wild salmon to harvest, and not just as a museum object we can go and look at, then we have to deal with the man-made impacts, says researcher Torbjørn Forseth, leader of the Scientific Council for Salmon Management.

Ask industries to roll up their sleeves

The aquaculture industry in particular has been largely blamed for the situation of wild salmon.

Salmon escaping from fish farms, salmon lice and other infections from the fish farming industry are considered to be a serious threat to wild salmon.

Other interventions, such as hydropower regulation, are also a challenge.

SALMON ESCAPE: Salmon escape is a major problem for wild salmon, according to a new report. Photo: Kallestad, Gorm / SCANPIX)

– All sectors that affect the wild axis negatively must make a proper effort to improve the situation, says Forseth.

He believes that the aquaculture industry in particular must take greater action.

– We are forced to reduce escapes, and we are forced to deal with the salmon lice problem. It takes the lives of a lot of salmon.

TV 2 has been in contact with Sjømat Norge, who will wait to comment on the case until they have received the report.

New dangers loom

In addition to known challenges, there are new dangers that threaten the wild axis.

– Humpback salmon is a new threat that affects many salmon stocks, and there is a need for national and international measures to reduce the risk of damage to wild salmon, says Forseth.

For the first time, more humpback salmon than Atlantic salmon have been caught in Norwegian rivers during a fishing summer. Based on collected catch figures, Norske Lakseelver estimates that 85,900 salmon were caught by anglers in 2021. This makes this year’s season the worst in modern times.

– It is a negative development that shows that we must use harder lye in the fight to protect wild salmon, says Secretary General Torfinn Evensen in Norske Lakseelver.

UNDESIRABLE SPECIES: Humpback salmon are a blacklisted species that can pose a danger to Norway's vulnerable populations of Atlantic salmon and sea trout.  Photo: Nils Ole Refvik

UNDESIRABLE SPECIES: Humpback salmon are a blacklisted species that can pose a danger to Norway’s vulnerable populations of Atlantic salmon and sea trout. Photo: Nils Ole Refvik

Will red list wild ax

On Wednesday comes the new red list for species. This year, wild salmon is one of the species that has been considered as a candidate for the list.

– The wild ax is on the red list from the experts, so we’ll see what the species database decides on Wednesday. But there is no doubt that the wild ax is a species that struggles a lot, says Forseth.

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