Norway orders fish farm drug reduction

THE Norwegian authorities have taken steps to reduce the environmental effects of drugs used to treat sea lice in fish farming. Fisheries Minister Per Sandberg has ordered the stricter rules because some of the delousing agents can affect shrimp (prawns) and other forms of shellfish.

The Minister said that while there will always be a need to use certain drugs in fish farming, his measures to reduce both their use and impact will help other forms of marine life.

For example,  there will now be  intervals of at least six months   between treatments of  certain inhibitors such as flubenzuroner  and its use cannot take place closer than 1,000 metres from the stress field. Furthermore, fish farms will now be forbidden from discharging water containing sea lice treatments anywhere near shrimp and other fish spawning grounds. He has also ordered that draining should take place at least 500 metres from the fields.

However, many shrimp (prawn) fishermen who have seen stocks decline in  recent years  feel the measure still do not go far enough and say the draining ban should be much further away than 500 metres. They say it is a problem that has been building up for a number of years and put it  down to the use of drugs by aquaculture companies.

Per Sandberg said it was only right that fish farmers should take action to reduce the negative impact of anti-lice treatments  because of their negative impact on other forms of fish life. “These measure will not only help the environment but will also benefit the entire (aquaculture) industry,” he maintained.

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