Norway fighting fake news on salmon

Norway's salmon exports to South Korea have soared

THE Norwegian Seafood Council has revealed it is spending a lot of time and resources fighting fake news reports circulating around the safety of farmed salmon.

The battleground appears to be concentrated in Asia – and South Korea, in particular. Salmon exports to that country have increased by 172 per cent in volume and 300 per cent in value over the past five years.

Last year, South Koreans bought 25,400 tonnes of salmon worth two billion kroner, most of it Norwegian.

But the Seafood Council has disclosed that in the past few months it has been forced to spend ‘a lot of resources on myth crushing and media handling’ after a blog at the beginning of this year came up with claims that salmon was a toxic food.

The council said such claims have appeared on rogue forums from time to time, but in Korea these reports were quickly spreading to the serious media – and faster than in other countries.

Gunvar L. Wie, the council’s fisheries envoy in South Korea, said that while the export growth was very positive, it was also important to disseminate the true facts to the media about salmon and seafood in general. The council’s work consisted of more than just promoting seafood, he added.

In one example, an anti-salmon social media blog was picked by the influential Seoul Broadcasting Service, SBS.

‘Fortunately, they came to us for more information and we gave them sufficient facts, which led to them dropping the report,’ Wie said.

‘But the most disturbing thing about the report was that it reached politicians in parliament, who demanded that the Korean Food Authority take a closer look at Norwegian salmon.’

He continued: ‘But it didn\’t stop there. Other junk media players picked up the ball, which led to turmoil on the net.

‘This included (false) claims that some markets were not accepting Norwegian salmon imports due to dangerous cadmium levels.

‘It all went so far that several importers started running their own tests of Norwegian salmon.’

Wie said the council had received a lot of ‘weird questions’ which it was able to answer, but eventually the Korean Food Authority decided itself to go on social media to describe the reports as fake news.

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