Norway slams the brakes on cod farming growth

cod fish swimming in blue sea

Norwegian regulators have called a temporary halt to further cod farming applications, particularly those at new locations.

The sector has been growing so fast that the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) wants time for everyone to draw breath and examine any biological or related implications. Whether growth resumes will depend on an assessment of the risks to wild cod.

The Authority told Fish Farmer: “There has been a temporary delay in the processing of applications for the establishment of localities for cod farming.

“The reason for this is based on the increasing number of applications for cod farming (over) the last years and the lack of knowledge about the risk of the spread of infection between farmed cod facilities and between farmed cod and wild cod populations.

“The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research’s (IMR) risk report from 2022 points out that an increase in biomass linked to already given permits for cod farming will entail a risk of negative impact on populations of wild cod along the coast.

“In recent meetings with the IMR it was again stressed that there is still a lack of knowledge concerning the spread of diseases, but the IMR has now started several projects to give more concise answers and advice to clarify these emerging aspects.”

The authority pointed out that there had been a significant increase in the number of given cod permits since 2022.

Some of the approved locations had not yet started, for various reasons, but it was important to point out that if all the permits had become operational, the risk of infection would probably be higher by now.

It added: “The Norwegian Food Safety Authority will, until the IMR can give us more detailed advice, use precautionary principles as a basis for processing applications for establishment of cod farming.

“In addition, the Food Safety Authority wants to have a dialogue with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, and based on this dialogue we will get further information on how applications will be handled in the future.

“Therefore, we cannot give a date for when the processing of the applications will start again, but we will work to get clarifications in place as quickly as possible.”

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