Caring for baby salmon in the "salmon maternity ward"
"Gently and careful, we will guide 250,000 fish through the vaccination bath," explains Kamala Shrestha (38).
The machine next to her is pumping lots of water as salmon fry weighing between four and five grams pass through the vaccination bath. Kamala is vigilantly paying attention to each baby salmon. In five to six hours, the salmon fry have received their first vaccine to protect them from diseases during their 2-3 year long life cycle.
“Everything we do with the fish from roe to smolt requires great accuracy. It is all about treating the fish gently, to ensure good care and a high fish welfare standard,” Kamala emphasizes.
“We are working with an important, but also vulnerable part of the salmon's life. We tend to say that we work at the salmon's maternity ward.”
Planned one year only in Norway
Kamala's journey into the aquaculture industry begins in Katmandu. She grew up in rural Nepal, trained as a teacher and worked at a school in the city of Kathmandu. She met a Norwegian family, who worked on a project to secure electricity supply in Nepal, and Kamala joined them as an “au pair”. When the family was moving back to Norway and Lebesby, Kamala was asked if she wanted to join.
“Of course I did! I was very happy with the job as an au pair and continued with it after we moved here. I came to Lebesby in 2008 and have lived here ever since.”
The plan was to work with the Norwegian family for one year. But Kamala thrived, and her happiness increased as she learned the language. She got a temporary job in a care home, while the search for a permanent job led her to Grieg Seafood and the hatchery in Landersfjord.
I actually come from a small place, but I had to go to the big city to get a job. Life in Norway cannot be compared to life in Nepal. I simply live a better life here!
“It is a very popular workplace, and I was lucky to get a job here. I did not know anything in the beginning, but they have good training,” says Kamala.
In a couple of years, she could complete a certificate in aquaculture.
“We learn every day. No two days are exactly the same and the work tasks are varied. I work in all departments, from the hatchery to the department where we start feeding the fry and later the smolt.”
Arrived at the new life
Kamala describes the transition from metropolitan Katmandu, with a million people, to the village of Lebesby with 800 inhabitants, as a journey to a new life.
“I actually come from a small place, but I had to go to the big city to get a job. Life in Norway cannot be compared to life in Nepal. I simply live a better life here!”
“The good life”
Kamala has no relocation plans. She and her husband will continue to live “the good life” in the outskirts of Norway with beautiful nature, good friends and work opportunities.
“I love my job and my colleagues. Working shifts hours gives me opportunities for lots of free time.”