Up to 2,000 tonnes of ready to harvest salmon have been lost at an Arctic fish site in Iceland due to serious biological problems.

It is thought to be one of the country’s most serious mortality incidents for many years,

Arctic Fish is owned by Norway Royal Salmon which in turn is part of the NTS group, currently the subject of a takeover bid by Mowi and a possible coup by rebel shareholders.

The company said in an Oslo Stock Exchange announcement at the weekend that all possible measure were being taken to try to contain the incident, but warned it was likely to affect results.

The statement continued: “Arctic Fish has been experiencing severe biological issues in two of its sites in Dyrafjordur in the Westfjords region.

“The total estimation of mortality is under review but is estimated to be 1,500 to 2,000 of large size fish that was ready for the market.

“All efforts are being made to handle this efficiently, which include speeding up harvesting in these two sites in the coming weeks. Our excellent employees in Iceland have made great efforts in handling the situation in the best possible manner.”

Arctic Fish believes the root cause for the mortality is related to reduced fish health, which could have been caused by stress due to handling, in combination with other factors.

Secondary complications related to limitations on harvesting capacity may also have impacted the fish health. Low temperatures along with poor weather conditions may have also played a part, the compnay said. One possibility is fish sores, exacerbated by fierce storms in the region leading to damage to fish in the cages, and colder than usual temperatures, which inhibit healing.

Arctic Fish warned that the incident will impact on first quarter results this year as well as the harvesting estimates for 2022.

“Further clarification regarding material effects of the event will be addressed in the presentation of the Q4 results on 23 February,” the announcement concluded.

Icelandic regional newspaper Stundin quotes Daníel Jakobsson, an employee of Arctic Fish and the leader of the Independence Party in the town council of Ísafjörður: “The fish in question were in very good condition at the end of the year and this generation aimed to become one of the best when it comes to discounts and growth. The reasons for the reductions are not known but are probably an interaction of stimuli on the fish, e.g. weather, transport and handling of the fish in combination with 1-degree cold sea.”

Arctic Fish is one of Iceland’s largest salmon farmers, producing around 23,000 tonnes last year.

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