Not only was the last report of hideous mutant cyclop cod a follow-up to an earlier news story in the Norwegian press, the subject of deformed farmed fish runs deeper. Even though some of my work means keeping an eye on the aquaculture industry here, it isn’t easy to stay on top of stories like this – they don’t often make it to top headline status, and the cod farming sector is minuscule compared to the salmon.
Now it seems the problem is known in the Trondheimsfjord as well as in the far north.
According to Norwegian news agency NTB, a cod farming operation in the region will close its facility. ‘Large numbers’ of deformed cod have been caught in the fjord and the Norwegian Association for Environmental Protection has filed charges.
Many of the fish display a red rash, large boils or sores, while others have deformations in the head or mouth, much like the star specimen I linked to last time.
The article, which sites national daily Dagbladet as a source, names Frengen Havbruk as the source of the mutant fish, according to charges by the Association for Environmental Protection. The AEP have filed charges of violation of the animal protection act, saying that the cod were so deformed they would have likely suffered a painful death, their mouths being unsuited to feeding in the wild.
The Frengen facility will shut down at Easter in any event, and all they would say about the charges was that they had already begun to slaughter their fish. Frengen has been in trouble before with escaping cod, which then contaminate wild stocks by breeding.
More worrying still is a Institute of Marine Research report from last July that indicates that farmed cod not only spawn in their net enclosures, but the larvae spread over large area and survive to become mature fish – an indication that they don’t need to escape to scramble the gene pool.
“We have found sexually mature cod that are a result of spawning in net cages in the test we ran in 2006,” says IMR researcher Knut Jørstad.
Hopefully some authority or other will step up soon and produce a comforting explanation for these finned freaks.