10 questions and answers about Norwegian salmon farmed in aquaculture

Salmon is one of the most popular fish species in the world. Every day 14 million meals with farmed Norwegian salmon are served worldwide. Just a few hours after the salmon are harvested out of the cold, clear waters of Norway, they are ready for export to over 100 countries.

1. How long does it take before salmon are fully grown?

Norwegian salmon take 2 to 3 years to reach a body weight of 4-5 kilograms, which is perfect for human consumption.
At one year old, the salmon are strong enough to migrate from freshwater to the cold saltwater fjords in the Norwegian Sea.

2. How much feed do salmon need before they are fully grown?

We, VÅRLAKS, use 1 kilo of fish feed for 1 kilo of fish.In its total lifespan, a salmon will therefore consume 6-7 kilograms of fish feed.
This is very little compared with other animals. For instance, it takes 3 kilograms of feed to produce 1 kilogram of pork and as much as 8 kilograms for 1 kilogram of beef.

3. What kind of feed is given to Norwegian salmon?

Norwegian salmon feed consists of fish oil and fish meal, vegetable oil and vegetable substances as well as proteins and carbohydrates.
The fish oil and fish meal are produced from fish offal and wild fish that are not fit for human consumption.

Today approx 70 per cent of fish feed is derived from vegetable sources (grain, vegetable substances etc); the rest comes from marine resources (fish oil, fish meal). This contributes to Norway’s very good environmental status.

4. How much omega-3 fatty acid do Norwegian farmed salmon contain?

One normal meal of salmon (150 gram filet) contains about 3.2 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids. This makes Norwegian salmon one of the richest sources of Omega-3 for human health.

A ‘modest’ helping of Norwegian farmed salmon (approx. 150 grams per week) provides the recommended weekly requirement of Omega-3 fatty acids.

5. Why are Omega-3 fatty acids so important for humans?

Omega-3 fatty acids ensure the optimum function of those cells responsible for the structure of our bodies throughout our lives.
Natural Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, for instance, are a key preventive measure to combat cardiac and arterial diseases in humans. In addition, low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids can lead to increased risks of diabetes and obesity.

6. How much salmon should we eat?

First of all, the question is how much fish should we eat to ensure a balanced diet?
The World Health Organisation and Norwegian Health Authority recommend the following:

We should have 2 to 3 main meals with fish a week, and half of these should be with rich fish like salmon, mackerel or herring. This ensures that our body receives the required level of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as iodine, selenium and key vitamins. This recommendation also applies to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children.

7. Should everyone eat fish 2 to 3 times a week?

Yes, everyone should eat fish 2 to 3 times a week, irrespective of whether they are young or old. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children should also follow this recommendation.

People suffering from cardiac or arterial diseases are the exception - they are recommended to increase their consumption of fish rich in fatty acids even further in order to top up their Omega-3 levels.

8. Can we be absolutely sure that Norwegian salmon sold to us is safe and healthy?

Yes, Norwegian salmon raised in the cold, clear waters of Norway are safe and healthy. Norwegian waters are barely ever exposed to any environmental pollution. Further, Norwegian salmon are constantly monitored and strictly controlled.
Each year 12,000 Norwegian salmon, which are ready for export, are randomly inspected by the independent National Institute for Nutrition and Seafoods (NIFES).

None of these inspections have ever found any residues of prohibited medications or illegal foreign substances.

9. There used to be talk of antibiotics in salmon. Are there any traces of antibiotics in Norwegian salmon today?

Norwegian salmon is healthy. When they are very small and reach a length of about 15 centimeters, they are vaccinated against most common salmon diseases. In addition, strict hygiene regulations are in place to ensure that illnesses are prevented in aquaculture.
Since the 1990’s, salmon production in Norway has grown from 50,000 to over million tons. The use of antibiotics has declined by 99 per cent in the salmon period.

10. A great deal of salmon is farmed in Norway, isn't that a bit like intensive livestock farming?

No, salmon farming in Norway does not belong in the intensive livestock farming category. After all, Norwegian salmon have plenty of space for exercise.

The rule for each net enclosure is: 2.5% fish have, 97.5% water. The net enclosures in which the salmon grow have a circumference of up to 200 metres and a depth of up to 50 metres.

We hope this has helped you learn more about salmon and aquaculture.

Want to know more about our story? And our natural salmon? Watch our clip here, take a trip to the North with us!