Disease trends are changing in Norway
Biological challenges are a major industry threat, but conversations often focus on lice regulations and biomass limits. How well is Norway keeping disease under control?
This week, Intrafish.no reported that the cost to farm fish in Norway has reached a new height: Production costs have doubled since 2012, and costs related to lice treatment have tripled in the time.
Bård Misund, Professor at the University of Stavanger, writes:
Production costs have been on an upward trend for 15 years, a development that does not appear to be declining. But it is not just the cost level itself that is increasing. Biological challenges have become more expensive, which can create increased cost differences.
Last month, one of the world's largest salmon producers cited Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) as driving its dramatically rising production costs: The costs for NRS Norwegian operations increased by NOK 2 per kilo from the first quarter to NOK 46.41 per kilo in the second quarter.
Biological challenges are a known threat to the industry, but the national conversation often focuses on lice regulations and biomass limits.
This week, Manolin pulled industry data to find the big picture: how well is Norway keeping disease under control?
Pancreas disease (PD) has typically spiked at this time of year. In 2021, though, it's dropping. The number of PD cases is lower than it has been since the industry started tracking:
However, ISA cases spiked to record levels in 2021.
According to Manolin's data, the previous record number of ISA cases in one week was 9. So far this year, 12 weeks have seen 9 or more cases:
These trends have a number of implications for the industry.
Vaccines appear to be making an impact. More fish have received vaccine doses since 2020. PD vaccinations became mandatory for PO6 and PO7 in week 26 of 2020, and six million more fish received Pharmaq vaccine doses from January to August 2021, compared to that same period in 2020 (261880000 doses in 2020, 267880000 doses in 2021). Meanwhile, the number of PD cases has dropped significantly, suggesting that the industry's mitigation techniques have been effective.
Data needs to be more granular. Looking at one of the industry's most costly diseases (PD) tells a positive story for 2021. This misses the full picture: ISA is a growing threat to fish health, production costs, and the industry's environmental impact. It’s becoming more important to better track this information, so the industry can maintain control over both existing and emergent diseases. This includes not just the number of mortalities on the farm, but the cause of mortalities.
Insurance premiums may go up. ISA is one of the events that can trigger an insurance payout, as farmers are forced to slaughter their entire site once the disease is confirmed. The increase in ISA cases will inevitably lead to more payouts across the industry, which threatens to increase premiums for all farmers.
A more accurate view
Farmers, veterinarians, and regulators alike need a big-picture view of how diseases are moving and developing across Norway. Here, how data is accessed and represented becomes important.
Manolin pulls disease data from governmental sources, then cleans it up for a more granular look at what kinds of infections are active in the water.
We enhance this data by removing sites that are still marked as active but are actually are empty due to confirmed ISA cases. Then, we further enrich it by including things like biomass estimates for every single site in Norway.
This disease information is freely available to the public in real-time. Sign up in less than a minute to check it out:
Read coverage of this data in Norwegian on Intrafish.no 👇🏻