Norway’s Salmon Farming Crisis | The Fish on My Plate | FRONTLINE
But, you see…>>GREENBERG: The Vosso is a legendary river with a legendary salmon. Except, in this marketing film, it’s a make-believe, computer-bred salmon.>>This is Mowi.>>Luckily, it’s only half of my name, so that’s good.>>GREENBERG: Frederik Mowinckel’s uncle was an early fish farming pioneer. His company– and his name– got swallowed up by an industry giant.>>My uncle would never… He would never have allowed this sort of animal farming.>>GREENBERG: Frederik says he never thought much about his relative or the industry until this farm suddenly appeared off his summer cottage. We have this expression in the states– NIMBY, “not in my backyard.” People don’t want things in their view sheds. Is this just a NIMBY issue?>>I don’t think that’s very fair. Did that particular farm trigger my deep-rooted interest in getting to the bottom of what is actually going on in the salmon farm? Yes. We have an issue with escaped salmon that mixes with the wild, we have an issue with sea lice, which is also affecting the wild salmon. We have the overall pollution. Those are the major issues that I have with salmon farming.>>GREENBERG: The Vosso salmon, which for millennia returned to these home waters, was the biggest of all Atlantic salmon. Now, like many other salmon runs in Norway, there are more escaped farmed fish in this river than wild salmon. And the Vosso salmon is threatened with extinction.>>There is a nursery program. They are trying to bring the salmon back, and that makes this even more ridiculous, because the salmon isn’t there anymore. The number of wild salmon has been reduced dramatically over the years, and one of the main reasons is all the disease and sea lice and everything that happens as a result of salmon farming.>>GREENBERG: Sea lice– I didn’t know much about these small marine parasites that attach to juvenile salmon and feed off the gills and through the skin. So I found Lars Asplin at the Institute of Marine Research.>>Here, you see how it looks like. It’s more, like, in a swarm of bees.>>GREENBERG: This is a computer model of how sea lice from a single farm can breed and spread, infecting the wild salmon. Can sea lice actually kill salmon?>>Yes, 100-gram fish, if they have more than ten sea lice, we usually regard it to be lethal.>>GREENBERG: Lethal? Imagine the same process duplicated on a thousand farms up and down Norway’s coast. Meanwhile, the government has looked at plans to expand the industry as much as five times. But they know they have problems. Is the sea lice a real serious problem?>>Yes, it’s a problem. If the number of sea lice in the farmed fish is higher, then you can get the pressure also for the wild salmon. It’s the fish farmers, they’re responsible to get rid of it and they have used chemicals and that’s been a problem. Of course it’s not good for the environment, and it’s also a problem with resistance.>>GREENBERG: Curiously, these are not even Atlantic salmon in the farm the fisheries director brought us to. They’re rainbow trout. It is an unusually fat rainbow trout, fatter than you would see in nature, I believe. It’s a farmed animal. I don’t think anyone would ever compare a wild pig with a farmed pig, and, I don’t know, if you’re going to eat farmed land animals, I don’t think you could make too much of a beef about eating farmed ocean animals. If you’re going to be a vegetarian, on the other hand, that’s another way to go. I mean, I could see a vegetarian criticizing all this, but I can’t really see a meat-eater criticizing all this, so… All right, let’s return you back to the water. Enjoy your last few days. I think you’ve got three days till harvest, so enjoy them, and I’m sorry that it had to end up this way for you. Oh, dear. Oh, there he goes. I fell in love with the ocean because it was the last great wild place where you could find the last wild food. Is this the shape of the ocean to come? Selectively bred rainbow trout? And invasive species, not even native to Norway, taking up residence here by the millions so that people all over the world can eat the same domesticated thing. And what about the farms you never get to see? What kind of safeguards are they taking in China, in Chile, in Vietnam? And all the other fish we eat that are grown in pens like this? Half the fish on our plates are farmed today. And half the fish I’ve been eating are farmed. They’re just too hard to avoid. That includes Norwegian farmed salmon, which, for the most part, is pretty good. But I still eat it with regret, because I know we can do better.