Verdict soon on Norway's battle over salmon exports – Fishupdate.com

Verdict soon on Norway’s battle over salmon exports Published:  16 August, 2007

Helga Pedersen

NORWAY’S Fisheries Minister has predicted a verdict by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in a month’s time on the case for sweeping away EU protection against cheap Norwegian salmon exports.

Speaking at AquaNor 2007 in Trondheim, Helga Pedersen said farming of salmon and other species of fish is an efficient form of food production. With 1 kilo of feed it is possible to produce approximately 1 kilo of salmon, whereas it takes several times as much feed to produce the same amount of meat in agriculture. The health benefits of eating seafood are also well documented internationally and are helping to increase the demand for farmed products.

Norway is the world’s second biggest exporter of seafood, she said. The export value of farmed fish now exceeds the export value of the traditional fisheries. Norway’s geography and climate, combined with knowledge and technology, have made it possible to develop a world class aquaculture industry and today Norway is in the forefront of farming both salmon and other marine species.

And to ensure Norway’s continued “pre-eminence” in food and aquaculture research a new research group will be established in Norway beginning on January 1.

As most Norwegians probably know, she said, the group has been given the temporary name “NOFIMA” and is a merger of the fisheries research institute Fiskeriforskning, the Institute of Aquaculture Research, the Norwegian Food Research Institute and Norconserv.

NOFIMA will serve to boost know-how, thereby increasing competitiveness in the aquaculture, fisheries and food industries. With over 400 employees NOFIMA will offer research services in all parts of the value chain. NOFIMA will have fine prerequisites for becoming an interesting international partner.

The expansion of the aquaculture industry, both in Norway and internationally, places heavy demands on the actors. By using nature as the production premises they have a particular responsibility to ensure that operations are sustainable and do not harm the environment.

“For several years we have had problems with fish escaping from production facilities.

“Fish escapes are the aquaculture industry’s biggest environmental challenge. However, the escape figures for the first half of this year show a reduction, and I trust that this development will continue.

“The authorities place great emphasis on escape prevention work and work closely with the industry to ensure an environmentally friendly aquaculture industry.”

Market access is another challenge that the aquaculture industry has had to learn to live with.

When she visited Hardanger a couple of weeks ago, she spoke with a fish farmer who had to sacrifice his summer holiday to fill out questionnaires from the European Commission in connection with the ongoing “review” of the anti-dumping measures against Norwegian salmon.

“To do away with these measures and prevent similar ones in the future, the (Norwegian) government has as is known submitted the dispute to the WTO. The WTO is expected to publish its report one month from now.”

With respect to the import restrictions on salmon and trout to Russia, she said the situation has stabilised and is somewhat more predictable than before, but in the long term the goal is for the Russian authorities to fully accept the role of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority as inspection body.

The aquaculture industry is a relatively new industry in Norway. There are many challenges, but at the same time there are major opportunities connected with its continued development, she said.

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