A violent storm in Norway over the weekend caused a massive salmon farm jailbreak, and now the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon is offering a bounty on the fish to get them back before they breed.
According to The Local, winds damaged a Marine Harvest salmon cage containing 127,000 salmon, allowing many of them to escape. Most of the salmon were caught with nets as they were trying to escape, but some got through. The company is now offering €60 or $80 for each runaway salmon that is caught and returned to the company. The exact number of missing salmon is unknown, but it could be in the thousands.
Escaped farmed salmon threaten marine life by competing with wild salmon for resources and mates. The farmed salmon often win because they are bigger and grow faster than wild salmon, but the farmed salmon are likely to produce genetically inferior offspring that weaken the genetic makeup of the wild salmon population.
The Local reports that the salmon farming industry has gotten a lot better about keeping its salmon in their cages. In 2012, 38,000 salmon escaped. That sounds like a lot, but it is 10 times fewer salmon escaped than in 2011. 2006 was the best year for escaped salmon, or the worst year for the fisheries, because 921,000 salmon got loose, the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate says.