Entry ban stops vaccine team in peak season

Aslak Berge

Roar Tomassen, country manager of the vaccine company Aqualife, faces challenges in the wake of the corona crisis.

The company is reaching high season for vaccinating fish, but is not getting its people in to customers in Norway.

“In these times, fish health and fish welfare means everything. I fear that we may face some very demanding situations in the future because companies such as Aqualife Services do not provide vaccines to our clients. In order to maintain good fish health and welfare it is necessary to vaccinate the fish that are in vessels around. Which in the next half will mean a lot to future food deliveries, says Tomassen to SalmonBusiness.

The Scottish company vaccinates around 70 million fish annually in Norway – of salmon, trout and cleaner fish.

“This weekend we were flying in several teams that were going out to customers to vaccinate this week. Information just a few days ago indicated that it was best not to travel because of quarantine rules and so on. But, as everyone knows, the advice changed from hour to hour and from day to day from the authorities,” he says, adding:

“Of course, we are 100 per cent loyal to these. Aqualife is now working to see if it is possible to send people from abroad to remedy the situation for their customers.”

“We are in contact with both the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and Seafood Norway – among others. The problem is that there are no clear guidelines on how and where one can apply for exemptions from the current quarantine rules to ensure fish health and welfare in the future. Seafood Norway has been very helpful in figuring this out, but has not even received clear answers. The last message we received was that the Ministry will work on clearer guidelines to see if it is possible to remedy the situation for the aquaculture industry, many people need to vaccinate their fish today and beyond,” says Tomassen.

“Even if we had had some teams in, for example, former Hordaland and were to travel to Nordland, we would have trouble crossing closed county and municipal boundaries,” he says.

“We hope to get some answers on how to act after March 26, but it does not look promising in terms of mobility around.”

Seafood Norway deems that municipal regulations should not prevent crew changes.

“Several municipalities have introduced special restrictions and quarantine regulations. As the seafood industry is one of several socially critical sectors, food production considerations have been raised above this,” says a report from Seafood Norway.

Seafood Norway, the Norwegian Fisheries Association and the fish sales teams at Norsk Villfisk have daily information exchange in connection with the corona virus.
The three organisations have received questions from, among other things, fishing boat companies, well boat companies, service vessel companies, aquaculture companies and fishing industry companies about municipal rules can prevent workers from coming to the company or whether local decisions can stand in the way of crew change.

The government’s announcement makes it clear that local regulations should be subordinated to food production considerations.

However, the three organisations are clear that business leaders and shipowners must be cautious and carry out crew shifts in a way that does not contribute to virus spread.


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