AQUACULTURE and fishing are among the issues taking centre stage in Norway’s general election which takes place next Monday (September 11).
For the past four years the country has been run by a coalition between the Conservatives and their right wing allies, the Progress Party and, if the polls are an accurate guide, they should be re-elected.
But Norway is a country where fishing and aquaculture are always hotly debated. A total of eight main parties covering the entire left-right spectrum are battling for control of the 179 seats in the Storting, Norway’s parliament.
The left wing parties are calling for tougher controls in Norway’s booming fish farming sector, especially in relation to environmental concerns about salmon escapes and pollution around the farms.
Some left leaning politicians have accused aquaculture companies of making excessive profits and say they should pay more tax, while others are demanding that companies should not be allowed to use the seas as a private waste disposal facility.
There is also a heated debate in the Lofoten region about the impact of the energy exploration industry on fish stocks.
This week two thirds of fishermen in the north of the country said there should be no further expansion of open sea fish farming.
Brexit and EU membership is also featuring heavily. Although more Norwegians are in favour of joining the EU, there is still a sizeable majority against it because they fear it would damage the country’s fishing industry, recognised as one of the best in the world.
There are also demands for Norway to leave the European Economic Area (EEA), with some of the smaller parties arguing that Norway should be able to sell seafood to the entire word.
Labour, which formed the previous government, is reported to be dropping back in the polls after an early surge.
Economically, Norway is performing well at the moment and it looks as if voters will want to keep the status quo. But elections in other parts of the world have been springing a few surprises recently.
Picture: Norway’s current prime minister, Erna Solberg of the Conservative Party