THE northern Norwegian city of Tromsø has rowed back on its controversial plan for an outright ban on open sea fish farms within its municipal area.
The left leaning city council caused a big stir last November when it declared that all future development should be centred around closed, land based farms.
The decision brought strong criticism from the aquaculture industry and the national government.
But the political coalition has recently split on the issue, with the ruling Labour or AP party modifying its position.
The party has indicated that while it prefers land based farms, it is prepared to allow some open farm development, provided it uses environmentally, climate change and socially friendly technology.
The industry will also be offered more land when the new coastal zone plan is rolled out, probably later in the year.
The decision has been welcomed by the employers’ organisation Seafood Norway as an important breakthrough.
Seafood Norway’s regional aquaculture manager, Marit Bærø, said it showed the council now wanted to grow its aquaculture sector and the move opened up the way for that expansion.
The Labour Party modified its position after talking to the industry and listening to concerns that the technology required to implement the coalition’s earlier demands was still several years away.
However, the decision has not been welcomed by the environmental lobby and other parties in the coalition, who have described it as a ‘dilution and a reversal’.
Meanwhile, another northern municipality, Alta, has decided that it wants to implement a ban on all new open sea farms, which has inevitably brought strong industry condemnation.