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Status of wild salmon stocks

Target

1.1 Norwegian ecosystems will achieve good status and deliver ecosystem services.

Indicator

Population status of species on which harvesting has significant impacts
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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

There are three species of anadromous salmonids in Norway – Atlantic salmon, brown trout and Arctic char. Migratory populations of trout and char are usually called sea trout and sea char. Sea-run char are found only in North Norway and Svalbard.

Data on stock status and numbers are most complete for salmon. Many salmon stocks are threatened or have been lost. There was a serious decline during the 1980s and 1990s, and at the end of this period, salmon stocks were reduced to only one third of their size in the mid-1980s. In 1997, the total catch of salmon was the lowest recorded in the 20th century. After a recovery period around the end of the century, numbers have declined again.

At present, 49 naturally reproducing salmon stocks are considered to be critically threatened or lost. In all, 73 salmon stocks have been lost, but it has been possible to re-establish 27 of these after the most serious threats (acidification and the salmon parasite Gyrodactylus salaris) have been brought under control.

According to the Norwegian Scientific Advisory Committee for Atlantic Salmon Management, escaped farmed salmon and sea lice are the most serious threats at population level that are not currently under control, while other threats (Gyrodactylus, acid rain, regulation for hydropower purposes and physical alteration of river systems) have been brought under control. They can still pose a threat to wild salmon stocks, but there is a lower risk that they will further reduce salmon production or cause the loss of more stocks in the future.