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A report by the Norwegiaan state food authority reveals that lice levels have increased “dramatically” over the last year, especially among salmon, trout and young trout in key fishing areas around Norway.

The situation is particularly problematic along the west Norwegian coast, where a number of large fish farms are found. In parts of Hardangerfjord, salmon and trout were found to have on average 50 lice, when only just over 10 are needed to greatly increase the risk of death, writes Views and News from Norway .murky-green_altantic_salmon_1105

Salmon lice, which cannot survive in fresh water, are common among fish farmed salmon and cost the industry an estimated NOK 500 million (nearly USD 90 million) each year. The lice are believed to spread easily in order to threaten wild populations. Use of chemicals to fight the problem is controversial because they can lead to a build up of hereditary resistance among the salmon population. The salmon lice issue flared up previously in 2009, and has even concerned King Harald, himself an avid angler who is keen to protect wild salmon.

There are 300-400 million salmon now in open net, industrial fish farms in Norway and Peter Andreas Heuch, who specializes in parasites at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, said to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, “that there should be other and until now unknown sources for the lice [other than fish farms] is something I cannot understand.”   FULL STORY