28,000 tonnes of fish at stake: Losna Seafood’s licence for gigantic salmon farm is pulled by authorities

Aslak Berge

Entrepreneur rails against the Norwegian Directorate of Fishery’s decision to pull licence at land-based salmon.

On May 20, there were cheers. Back then,  Losna Seafood founder Geir Nordahl Pedersen had been granted a licence to produce 28,000 tonnes of salmon at Losna, Western Norway.

Now the next move was to go out into the market and raise money to build the gigantic salmon farm.  The plan is to detonate mountain rock to create a basin 500 x 90 metres, with space for about 28 cages.

But just before the weekend, Pedersen received a letter from the Directorate of Fisheries informing him that the salmon farm licence had been withdrawn.

“We are very surprised by the decision in the Directorate of Fisheries, and we of course appeal this decision,” Geir Nordahl Pedersen told SalmonBusiness.

The decision is related to the fact that the Directorate of Fisheries have doubts it is actually “land-based”.

Losna Seafood is planning a flow through plant just off the beach, not a so-called RAS facility that is more widespread and reuses water. If it is a sea site, then salmon farming licenses are not for free and you’ll have to spend a lot of money. An ordinary salmon farm licence is currently priced at around EUR 19 million – for the right to produce 1,200-1,300 tonnes of salmon per year.

“It is clear that Vestland County Council believes it is a land-based facility, like us, and has granted a proper licence. We look forward to highlighting the case as similar licence have been granted in other parts of the country,” he said.

Nordahl Pedersen did not want to mention any specific names. But a company like Andfjord Salmon, which went up like a bullet on the stock exchange last month, bases its production technology on the flow though of seawater.

“It is interesting to see that the Directorate say that if we had chosen another technological solution, we would have had it approved as a land-based facility. Although the solution is very much more expensive. And we don’t understand that. Because the facilty is located on what is now dry land and the price of technology neutrality is highlighted in this scheme.

“They wanted a high degree of innovation, but say that the most expansive solutions are the best solutions,” he continued. “Understand it if you can.”

“It can’t be in the interest of the politicians to increase the cost of production on salmon in Norway, neither on sea-based nor land-based production. And we will never give up on this decision here.

“It’s completely unreasonable, simple and straightforward. But I assume that in the complaint we get the case highlighted,” said Nordahl Pedersen, who feels unfairly treated by the Directorate of Fisheries.

“We will run this case here all the way to the bitter end. Along the way, there are some who have to accept that it is a legally awarded licence. If they want to change the rules then they have to do it, but there has to be some predictability.”

“We have had the appeal deadline postponed until over the summer, but it is a bit tedious to get such a letter the day before we go on holiday. It stings a little when one has been working on five years on a case, and then something like this comes with an extremely weak foundation for decision,” he concluded.


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