WITH local elections looming in less than two months, politicians in Tromsø are gearing up for a heated fight over future methods of fish farming in the municipality.
The council of the northern Norwegian city sent shockwaves through the industry last November when it ruled that all future aquaculture development should be in closed and emission free farms.
The ruling AP, or Labour Party, has since rowed back from its earlier stance and seems prepared to agree to open farming, provided it is environmentally sustainable.
But other left wing parties, such as the Greens and Socialists, are sticking to their tough position and are continuing to pile on the pressure, demanding that the council’s original decision be adhered to.
Their argument is that Tromsø municipality has a responsibility to the local population, the environment and other industries to manage the coastline in a sustainable manner.
In their view, ‘emission free’ means no sea lice, no feed spills or fish waste and no infectious agents.
Unsurprisingly, politicians from the Conservative, Progress, Christian Democrat and Liberal parties take the opposite view, arguing that to impose excessive demands on fish farming companies would lead to job losses and damage to coastal economies.
The industry itself has also come out strongly against the proposal, pointing out that much of the technology for totally emission free farms has yet to be developed and tested.
It also warns that Norwegian companies may decide to take future investment abroad to countries such as the UK, Canada or South America.The results of the election, on September 9, is being seen as pivotal to the future of fish farming in the Tromsø region, one of the most important in Norway.
The fear is that if Tromsø sticks to its original decision other coastal towns with a similar political make-up could follow.