Million kroner fine imposed on slaughter ship owner

Hav Line's Norwegian Gannet slaughter ship

THE owner of the slaughter ship Norwegian Gannet has been fined just over a million kroner (around £75,000) by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority for breaching fish welfare rules by reducing the voltage strength on its stunning equipment.

However, the Hav Line, the vessel’s operator, has argued in defence that the action was taken in the interests of welfare.

The welfare rules in Norway are strict, stating that fish must always be unconscious before they are slaughtered.

According to a report in the newspaper Bergens Tidende, the Food Safety Authority is alleging that the strength of the stunner had been reduced from 110 volts to between 30 and 50 volts, and carried out without being documented.

Food Safety Authority Inspector Kristina Birkeland told Bergens Tidende that it takes the issue very seriously, maintaining that violation fines are one of the strongest tools in its locker.

She said the change may also have resulted in fish suffering over a period of time.

Kristian Haugland, general manager of Hav Line told the paper that the change was made from a fish welfare perspective. “We experienced that the fish were treated more gently and better anesthetised” , he stressed.

Built in 2018, the Norwegian Gannet carries a crew of around 100 and is capable of processing 160,000 tonnes a year at sea.

At the time of its launch it was hailed as revolutionising the sector by easing processing bottlenecks, but the owner has had a strained relationship with the Norwegian authorities in recent times. Three years ago the company won a long running processing dispute over damaged or deformed fish case against country Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The vessel has also come to the rescue of Icelandic salmon companies on a number of occasions after they got into harvesting difficulties.

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