The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries will carry out inspections across the country's cod farming industry after a series of escapes.

In recent months, Norway's resurgent cod farming sector has come under fire following multiple reports of escaped fish and speculation over their potential impact on wild populations.

The aim of the inspections to is ascertain whether farms are operating in accordance with the country's aquaculture regulations, Norway Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjornar Skjaeran told IntraFish sister publication Fiskeribladet.

"The management and regulation of the cod farming industry works very well in many areas. At the same time, there is also potential for improvement," Skjaeran said.

Despite plans to tighten up on the industry, the minister said there is potential for further growth in cod farming within the current framework, and the government will continue to support the sector.

"Both the aquaculture industry and the fishing industry are of great importance for value creation, settlement and jobs along the entire coast. I am concerned that further development of the two industries must be seen in context, and that the resources are managed for the benefit of current and future generations," Skjaeran said.

In December, an estimated 87,000 cod escaped from a Gadus Group site in northern Norway after holes were discovered in several cages.

In February, DNA testing by Norway's Institute of Marine Research following a suspected farmed cod escape in Meloy, Norway, concluded there is a "very high probability" the fish originated from the nearby farm sites operated by Norcod.

There is still no conclusion as to how the cod could have escaped from the site, however, and Norcod has so far not discovered any damage to the nets that could have given the fish opportunity to escape.

Some researchers and fishermen have raised alarm that the escaped fish could breed with wild stocks.

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