Norway suspends salmon processing exemptions

Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, Norway's seafood minister

NORWAY has suspended further applications from salmon companies who want to send fish overseas to be processed.

The move by the seafood and fisheries minister, Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, follows a storm of criticism from politicians and smaller independent processing companies after the salmon farming giants Mowi and Lerøy were granted exemptions.

A number of other companies, including Sekkingstad and Ocean Quality, have since submitted similar applications.

The minister said: ‘We are now considering whether the exemption guidelines should be tightened up. In light of this, I have asked the Food Safety Authority to wait to before processing exemption applications.’

According to the current regulations, production fish must be sorted and any faults, wounds or deformities corrected before being exported.

However, it is not clear whether the exemptions granted to Mowi and Lerøy were only for a short period in any case.

Ingebrigtsen conceded that some companies did have problems with processing fish domestically because of the coronavirus crisis, but he stressed that the government would continue with the current policy to protect the country’s seafood reputation.

Another company which applied for an exemption was Nova Sea, but it has since put the request on hold, saying the processing situation had improved.

Nova Sea CEO Tom Eirik Aasjord told E.24 that with closed borders and further restrictions, salmon companies had faced a number of challenges when it came to production.

‘We cannot put ourselves in a situation where we risk having to destroy food, which is why we submitted our (earlier) application,’ he added.

He said that the restaurant and hotel trade had disappeared and it was hard to send out freight by air, but somehow the salmon industry was still managing to keep the wheels running.