Salmon capital’s march into wild-catch raises eyebrows


A growing number of Norwegian salmon-farming heavyweight names have invested in whitefish catch quotas and primary plant, and it’s raised eyebrows in northern Norway about lost local control of their value chain.

A survey by local newspaper, Nord24, suggests not all are thrilled by the incursions made into wild-catch by aquaculture capital. Among those making inroads into sea-caught volumes and processing are Leroy Seafood Group; Pan Fish founder Bjarte Tunold and SalMar shareholder, Gustav Witzoe, all billionaires who built fortunes in salmon-farming.

Others include salmon exporter, Per Magne Grøndahl; Iceland’s Samherji and entrepreneur-promoter, Arne Hjeltnes.

Some 80 percent of the trawler quotas in Finnmark and Tromso, two large north-Norwegian counties, are now in the hands of wealth built on salmon. Those enterprises now also own over half of the prized whitefish and other species being landed in Finnmark, the newspaper’s survey said.

“I thought it was good, but now I’ve changed my mind,” Rita Karlsen, managing director of Broedrene Karlsen, was quoted as saying. Her company did the reverse of what Big Salmon was doing: it used whitefish capital to buy itself into aquaculture.

While Karlsen reportedly said she thought salmon producers aren’t marketing their whitefish well, others polled see the influx of any capital as a way to ward off foreign competition and build diversified companies at the expense of “purely cod” or “purely salmon” outfits. Norwegian Fisheries Minister, Per Sandberg, and another source hinted that authorities would be on the look-out for undesirable ownership concentrations that could lead to cartel activity or monopoly rule.


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