Ministers praise Norway-UK partnership

Fisheries ministers Mark Spencer (UK) and Cecilie Myrseth (Norway) at the UK-Norway Seafood Summit 2024

Fisheries ministers from Norway and the UK have stressed the mutual importance of the seafood trading relationship between the two countries – but trade body Salmon Scotland has said the playing field needs to be more level.

Cecilie Myrseth, Norway’s Fisheries and Oceans Minister, and Mark Spencer, UK Fisheries Minister (pictured), were speaking at last week’s UK-Norway Seafood Summit, held at Fishmongers’ Hall in London.

Myrseth said: “In challenging times, trusted and loyal partners are more important than ever. And the UK is very much one of Norway’s most trusted partners.

“Right now, the geopolitical situation is more uncertain than in a long time, with conflict and war in Ukraine and the Middle East.

“Inflation and higher interest rates are affecting both businesses and individuals, including what we buy at the grocery store and put on our dinner plates.

“And at the same time, it is urgent to speed up the green transition, also in the blue industry.”

Easing imports to the UK

Mark Spencer added: “The United Kingdom and Norway’s relationship is a historic one, based on friendship, respect, and cooperation. We recognise the importance of seafood from Norway; having easy access to it is important for consumer choice and as part of a healthy diet.”

He also explained that measures had been introduced to ease the paperwork for seafood imports to the UK from Norway, including an electronic certification system for the export health certificates (EHCs) required for Norwegian salmon exports to the UK.

Trade body Salmon Scotland called, however, for swifter action to introduce a similar electronic system for UK exporters.

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of Salmon Scotland, said Scottish salmon farmers, who produce the UK’s largest food export, remain frustrated by the lack of new eCertification for export health certificates (EHCs), and issues with the current outdated system.

Salmon producers have stated their willingness to work with the UK Government to put in place any measures that make it easier to export their product to Europe and have already piloted a successful electronic EHC system.

Salmon Scotland has previously estimated that post-Brexit paperwork costs salmon farming companies in Scotland an extra £3m a year since the UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020.

Tavish Scott said: “We’ve been saying since Brexit that we need electronic systems to reduce the red tape for salmon farmers.

“So given this now happens for seafood imports from third countries like Norway, as highlighted by the fisheries minister, we’re surprised that this still hasn’t been sorted for exporters to the EU.

“International demand for Scottish salmon continues to increase, and it’s vital for economic growth here at home that we remove barriers for key exporters like salmon farmers.”


Fish welfare on the agenda

Also at the Summit Cecilie Myrseth said that the Norwegian Government is now preparing a White Paper on animal welfare, including welfare issues for farmed fish”.

She made it clear that, while she was proud of the hard work being carried out by Norway’s seafood industry, there was always room for improvement.

She went on: “The aquaculture industry has challenges which must be resolved. Too many fish die before slaughter. In many cases because laws and regulations are not followed. It is unacceptable.

“If the industry wants to grow, things must be done properly and according to regulations. The fish must be taken better care of.”


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