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NORWAY: Study shows high level of heavy metals in crabs near net-pen salmon farms

Concentrations of heavy metals in Norwegian fjords are 2-4 times higher than Norway's coastal waters, reflecting a significant increase in recent years. Fjords are also where the net-pen salmon industry operates there. In one fjord the levels of cadmium, lead, mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls are so high that the recommendation is not to eat crab, shellfish or fish from parts of the fjord.

An article was published recently highlighting the results of a study on crabs located near 10 fish farms.

There has been a significant increase in toxic metals in brown crab meat in recent years. Between 2016 and 2018, the average level of cadmium increased by 137 %

The increase in heavy metals over a relatively short period of time indicates that crabs are exposed to ongoing and increasing pollution. It has been difficult to explain this, as emissions of various toxic elements have generally been reduced in Norway. The crabs in the study by Ervik et al. were caught at various locations in one of Norway's main aquaculture areas (12, 13). There are ten fish farms in this area, the oldest of which has been in operation since 1996.

Toxic elements will accumulate in fjords where farming takes place

"The accumulation of environmental toxins in crabs and other marine life is a marker of the state of our fjords' health. The increasing toxic content in crab meat is a sign that developments are going in the wrong direction. Aquaculture's contribution to this is significant (Table 1).

If this development is allowed to continue, all seafood from the fjords will become a risk to health and inedible.

If this development is allowed to continue, all seafood from the fjords will become a risk to health and inedible. Neither healthcare personnel nor the general public seem to be aware of this problem.

We are calling for measures to control these emissions. We must demand that those doing the polluting clean up after themselves, and that emissions are discontinued. Protecting life in the fjords means protecting life for us all."

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