Norwegian farmers appeal ‘traffic light’ ruling

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A group of 25 fish farming companies are pressing ahead with their opposition to Norway’s traffic light scheme for regulating aquaculture growth.

A month after losing a key district court hearing, they have now taken their arguments to a court of appeal which will consider their case afresh. The district court also handed them a legal bill of around £155,000.

The companies are mainly based in the south west of the country in an area known as PO4 where many of the salmon and trout farms have been placed into the scheme’s “red zone”. This prohibits expansion, and it also means that some of the companies must reduce their output by up to 6%.

The Norwegian government says the scheme, which designates various areas as red, green and amber zones, is designed to help control salmon lice and protect wild fish stocks.

The fish farmers argue that the regulations are intrusive and will have serious consequences for their businesses. They are also questioning whether the Ministry of Trade and Industry met the right conditions in law when drawing up the legislation.

The companies certainly have a tough fight on their hands. The district court verdict in March was pretty emphatic and firmly dismissed their arguments that the scheme was an abuse of power, lacked legal authority and was an abuse of human rights.

The court said the imposition of a red light zone did not signal a permanent ban on growth in PO 4, suggesting that the situation could change if the environmental situation improves.

Map showing the green, yellow and red areas in Norway’s new traffic light scheme