Fish farmers lose traffic light appeal

A group of 25 Norwegian west coast fish farmers have lost their appeal against the Oslo government’s controversial traffic light scheme.

A special court of appeal today delivered a unanimous verdict in support of the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry which introduced the scheme more than 18 months ago.

A full report on the reasons behind the court ruling is expected to be published later.

The fish farming group, which is mainly based in the south west region of the country,  said today they were disappointed by the decision.

They are now considering taking their case to the Norwegian Supreme Court, but most observers believe that their chances of success are not good.

The group also faces legal costs of between £150,000 and £200,000 in sterling terms.

They argued at the two week hearing in January that the plan was unfair because it singled out a particular region and maintained it would reduce their biomass by at least 6%.

Successive Norwegian governments – both Conservative and Labour – have said the scheme, which designates various areas as red, green and amber zones, is designed to help control salmon lice and protect wild fish stocks.

The fish farmers have long maintained that the regulations are intrusive and will have serious consequences for their businesses, adding there is no practical evidence for the government’s position.

They are also questioning whether the Ministry of Trade and Industry met the right conditions in law when drawing up the legislation

The court ruled that nothing substantially new had emerged since the scheme was first announced.

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