THE Norwegian government has given the go-ahead for salmon farmers to grow production by between 22,000 and 23,000 tonnes net.
Under the country’s much vaunted traffic light system – which divides the coastline into 13 districts – nine zones, predominantly from the centre of Norway to the North Cape area, have been given a green light, allowing for further expansion.
Part of the southern tip of Norway, leading up to Oslo is also green. In all, some 33,000 tonnes of extra production have been granted.
But for the first time since the industry began to mushroom in the early 1970s, the government is planning to cut back on production in parts of the country.
The Department of Trade and Fisheries unveiled the final map today, with two important zones in the south west marked red, meaning ‘no further aquaculture’ activity.
Those areas will have to reduce output capacity by at least six per cent, or around 9,000 tonnes. The decision is likely to anger those companies who have invested heavily in the new red areas and their response is awaited.
The environment minister, Sveinung Rotevatn, said: ‘Two areas in Western Norway are now glowing brightly (red) because the impact of salmon lice on wild salmon is unacceptable.’
He added: ‘It is my great responsibility to maintain the wild salmon stocks in Norway, and their supervision is an important part of the traffic light system.
‘For the first time, we will reduce the production capacity in these areas so that the health of wild salmon can improve.’
Two areas north of the red area and centred around Trondheim have been given a yellow light. This allows existing production to remain, but with no further expansion because the lice problem will not allow it.
The government believes that, overall, the final scheme, which comes into effect this year, will eventually boost salmon and trout growth by up to 23,000 tonnes.
The socio-economic consequences of any government decisions are also taken into consideration.
Norway’s new fisheries minister, Geir-Inge Sivertsen, said: ‘Aquaculture is an important industry for Norway.
‘It provides high value creation and jobs in rural areas. My job now will ensure continued growth in the industry, while taking the wild salmon issue seriously.’
The scheme was first launched in 2017, but has taken more than two years to complete. The final map should have been presented last year by the previous fisheries minister, Harald T. Nesvik.
He resigned two weeks ago following a political fall-out in the Conservative coalition government. Disagreements are thought to have delayed publication of the new system.
Last year was the worst in Norway for salmon escapes, which led the government to warn the industry that it needed to take urgent action.