Save Salmon From Becoming Casualties of Fish Farming

Target: Hrönn Ólína Jorundsdottir, Director General of Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority

Goal: Restrict environmental impact of open-pen salmon farms that are negatively impacting wild fish populations.

The anticipated eruption of an Icelandic volcano has dominated the country’s environmental headlines, but an equally long-simmering threat deserves immediate attention as well. The rivers of Iceland are populated by storied wild salmon who use the waterways as migration routes. Yet this ecological fixture is in imminent danger from the expansion of an industry for which scientists have long sounded alarm bells: open-pen fish farming.

This form of aquaculture can produce more salmon in a single pen than the entirety of Iceland’s wild salmon population. These fish are distinct from natural salmon by abnormalities such as torn fins and disfigured snouts. They also mature much faster, which makes them a risk to wild salmon populations when interbreeding occurs. And with the reported high-profile escapes of tens of thousands of farmed salmon from at least two farms, the risk is high. These fish likewise bring with them a marked increase of sea lice: a parasite that is especially harmful to wild salmon. But the farmed salmon themselves are far from the only danger posed by these farms.

Pesticides used to treat the lice, as well as other pollutants, are common output on salmon farms. In some cases, they emit as much detrimental pollution as a small city. Furthermore, many mammals rely on wild salmon for sustenance, so a major disruption to their populations could lead to ecosystem collapse. Despite repeated warnings about the dangers and broad public support for restrictions (or an outright ban) on open-pen fish farming in Iceland, regulation remains lax and largely non-existent.

Sign the petition below to demand a change in this detrimental status quo.


Dear Director General Jorundsdottir,

Images of diseased and dying salmon by the boatload (the result of a widespread sea lice infestation) starkly demonstrated the dangers posed by open-pen fish farming. Escapees from these pens have been found in dozens of Iceland’s rivers. This reality puts the wild salmon that have sustained fishing interests and that are lynchpins of ecosystems in immediate peril. Scientists warned of these outcomes (as well as other potentially catastrophic environmental effects like pollution) when plans for an expansion of fish farming were first announced.

Yet in spite of these predictions coming to fruition and in spite of multiple alleged violations by fish farms, this authority has deemed additional oversight “unnecessary.” Will it take the eventual eradication of this vital species of the wild for action to be taken, or will you finally heed the calls of conservationists and a majority of the public alike for immediate reform? Please do not wait for this  irrevocable loss.

Enact serious changes to open-pen salmon farming and, if these changes cannot be realized in a meaningful way, end the harmful practice altogether.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Vladvictoria

One Comment

  1. Fish farms are for profit. Period! Fish farms should be away from wild fish but this is taking advantage and causing disturbance in the wild fish schools.

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