Salmon processing row turns political

Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, Norway's seafood minister

THE decision to allow Mowi and Lerøy Seafood exemption from Norwegian processing rules erupted into a political row at the weekend.

Norwegian Labour Party (AP) figure Cecilie Myrseth has called for answers from Norway’s Conservative government, while demanding that all companies are treated equally.

Last week the Food Safety Authority caused a stir within the industry when it said that because of the coronavirus crisis, Mowi and Lerøy, the country’s two largest salmon producers, could be granted an exemption from strict rules which state that fish with certain quality deficiencies must be processed in Norway before being exported.

It brought a strong protest from the trade body representing small and medium sized processors, who said they were well equipped to take on any extra work.

Myrseth, who is Labour’s fisheries spokesperson, has sent a series of questions to the new seafood minister, Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, calling for an explanation.

She told the business website and journal E.24 that big companies should not be allowed to move work abroad when there was plenty of spare capacity at home.

‘We need now to keep production here so can avoid lay-offs and ensure people can stay in work,’ she added.

Since her intervention it was revealed that two more companies are likely to be granted similar exemptions.

Ingebrigtsen said Covid-19 has meant that Mowi and Lerøy were encountering major problems with processing, and the exemptions were necessary to prevent hundreds of tonnes of fish from being destroyed.

Mowi explained that the company had found itself in an extraordinary situation because of the crisis, while Lerøy told E.24 that virus movement restrictions were causing problems.

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