Since the advent of commercial salmon farming around 1970, the aquaculture industry has grown to become an industry of major importance. Not just to the Norwegian economy at large, but especially to the many communities found along the coast where other economic opportunities are sometimes limited. Today, farming of salmon and rainbow trout is taking place in close to 160 municipalities all along the Norwegian coast, from Lillesand in the south to South-Varanger in the north. Approximately 5,900 people are directly employed in aquaculture production. In addition, thousands of jobs are created in transportation, the supply industry, as well as in commerce. All in all, including spin-off effects, it is estimated that in excess of 21,000 people are employed in aquaculture related activities.
In 2012, Norwegian aquaculture production amounted to approximately1,3 million tons, 99 percent of which was Atlantic salmon and trout. The first-hand value of the aquaculture production reached an all-time high of 31,4 billion NOK. In addition to salmon and trout, Norwegian fish farmers produced 10 000 tons of cod, 2 000 tons of shellfish, as well as smaller amounts of other marine species. Production of Atlantic salmon has been growing continuously over several decades and is doubled only since 2005.
The continued growth of Norwegian aquaculture production has presented the industry with a range of challenges. Environmental concerns related to sea lice and escaped fish have remained unresolved, although significant progress is being made. Other challenges have grown more apparent in recent years, particularly those related to feed- and area scarcity.
An environmentally sustainable aquaculture industry, minimizing risks to the marine environment and biological diversity, is a prerequisite for long-term growth and development. The strategy of the Norwegian government identifies five key areas where aquaculture may potentially have a negative impact on the environment:
- Escaped fish/genetic interaction
- Pollution and discharges
- Diseases and parasites
- Use of coastal areas
- Feed and feed resources
This section provides information about Norwegian aquaculture, sustainable production, food safety, farmed species and the legal framework for aquaculture production.