1.5cm parasite killed off huge numbers of the pink fish during 2016 as worldwide supplies fell by nine per cent. This led to wholesale price rises of up to 50 per cent. The tiny sea parasite hit two of the world’s biggest producers as Norway and Scotland both reported severe problems. Chile, the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon has also seen stock decimated as a deadly algae bloom affected production, further reducing the global stock. The parasite, known as lepeophtheirus salmonis, is the distant cousin of the wood louse feed on the blood and tissue of the salmon.
The more recent infestation of sea lice has led to a 6% reduction in supply from Norway, as the top five salmon farms produced 60,000 tonnes less than expected in 2016. Scotland saw a four per cent decrease in 2015 to 171,722 tonnes of salmon, in part caused by another parasite, however, both are becoming more predominant in UK fish farms with experts blaming rising sea temperatures
According to Nordea, global supplies experienced a drop of 8.7%, to a three-year low of 2.1m tonnes..
International producer, Marine Harvest, said the volume of salmon it produced in Scotland had fell by 16%, or 1,500 tonnes, during the summer, partly in part due to an accidental treatment using a devuice called a “Thermolicer” which killed 175,000 fish. The device, which immerses fish in a warm bath, is one of a number of methods used by fish farmers in an attempt to control sea lice without resorting to alternative to chemicals.
Consumer demand for salmon has risen over the last few years; since 2002 consumption has risen 12%. The hike in prices during 2017 may see consumption fall.