F A C T S H E E T
Emissions from aquaculturemainly contain substances thatare natural parts of the marineecosystem.
The most important sources of emissions of nutrients and organicmaterial from fish farming facilitiesare metabolic products,excrements and uneaten feed.Nutrients, primarily dissolvednitrogen and phosphorous, arenecessary fertilizers for algaewhich again function as food forother organisms in the sea.Different fish and benthic faunautilise uneaten feed and faeces thatfall to the sea bed.There are strict regulations governingthe establishment and operation of fish farming facilities in Norway.Establishment can only occur after alicence has been granted. Thereafterthe individual location must beapproved by the authorities that alsoneed to consult plans drawn up on thepolitical level. Fish farmers in Norwayare also subject to a productionmanagement regime (MTB, MaximumAllowable Biomass) that sets limits forhow much fish (biomass) can be heldat each place. All the same it is still
A factsheet on emissionsof nutrients and organicmaterials fromﬁsh farming.
Emissions of nutrientsand organic materials
Emissions from fish farming cannot be compared with sewage from towns
The most important sources of emissions from production in fish farming facilities are metabolic products, excrement and uneatenfeed. Excrements, whether from wild fish or farmed fish, are not in themselves harmful to the environment. Nor can it be directlycompared with sewage from humans, since both the composition and bacterial flora will be completely different. Unlike excrementsfrom humans, pets and many farm animals, excrements from fish do not represent any hygienic risk for humans or fish.
The majority of Norwegian fjordshave a deep sill and are in opencontact with the ocean current beyond. Water exchange is good,with retention periods ranging fromseveral days to several weeks for the majority of fjords. This is of major significance to the water quality and life in the fjord and theouter coastal areas.
These conditions make theNorwegian coast very suitablefor fish farming.
The natural occurrence of nutrientsin the deep water layers in theocean is extremely high. In thesame way as there is a stirring of the mass of water in freshwater areas every spring and autumn, inthe ocean highly nutrient-rich water flows from the bottom and up to theupper water layers in the winter.Together with light this is thecondition required for new algae production in the light season. Thusthere is not only a major horizontal transport of the water mass but alsoa significant and equally important vertical transport with thereplacement and mixing of water.Norwegian fjords are heavily influenced by the water currentsthat come from far away, at thesame time as conditions are alsoaffected by local and natural variations caused by changes intemperature, wind, precipitation,salinity, tides and the season.
A coast seemingly madefor fish farming
The figure shows how coastal and fjord water is in open contact with the ocean current in a Norwegian fjord with a sill. Source: The Institute of Marine Research