THE Norwegian government has called a temporary halt to new land based fish farming applications.
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran says he wants time to develop a clearer framework for the needs of aquaculture on land against those of sea based aquaculture.
Compared to traditional sea or fjord salmon farming, land based farming is a relatively young, but fast growing, sector and seen by many as being more environmentally acceptable.
Land farms are not subject to the government’s controversial ground rent tax proposal – at the moment. Several applications for such farms are known to be in the pipeline.
The announcement has taken the industry by surprise although it does feel the rules need to be clarified.
The Minister stressed that the suspension would only apply until new regulations governing land farms are in place.
He said: “ There have been significant technological developments from those who seek permission for aquaculture production on land.
“This indicates that the industry is innovative and growing rapidly. However, we see that there is a need for clearer frameworks for what is to be considered aquaculture on land, as opposed to aquaculture in the sea.”
He explained the reason for the temporary halt is that there are a number of applications for plans close to the sea.
This presented a challenge to the different regulations between aquaculture in the sea and on land.
When permission is given for a land facility near the sea (usually by the local county council) it could in some circumstances fall within the confines of the government’s traffic light system which regulates coastal growth.
It was important to avoid this, especially for the sake of the environment, said the Minister.