Norwegian fish farms "now major polluters"

Industry's huge growth makes it country's largest emitter of phosphorus, second largest of nitrogen

Norwegian fish farming has developed so rapidly that it is now the country's largest single source of phosphorus and the second largest source of nitrogen, according to a new report by the national Pollution Control Authority (SFT) and the Institute for Water Research (NIVA). The report is the first such comparative study to include aquaculture.

About 800 farms, producing 450,000 tonnes of salmon and trout annually, release the nutrients in the form of fodder and excrement. The report estimates that releases of phosphorus and nitrogen from the industry increased by 111% and 45% respectively between 1993 and 1998. Fish farming is the only sector to show such relative increases. Discharges from traditional sources such as agriculture, industry and municipal sewage have fallen dramatically.

To date, any pollution problems from aquaculture have been "purely local in character," says the SFT, but "the long-term consequences of increasing emissions are uncertain, especially in view of the [further] strong growth predicted". The industry has not acted illegally, however, and the SFT says there are no immediate plans to impose restrictions.

However, NIVA notes that nitrogen and phosphorus emissions are responsible for a considerable stretch of the Norwegian coastline - from the Swedish border to the southernmost part of Norway (Lindesnes) - being defined as eutrophic.

Follow Up:
SFT, tel: +47 22 57 35 74; NIVA, tel: +47 22 18 51 00.

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