Salmon farmers move forward to file giant lawsuit against Norwegian government

Aslak Berge

“Reducing the production of the country’s second most important export commodity by six per-cent has major consequences.”

On Wednesday, 25 salmon farmers in Western Norway met the government at the Ministry of Fisheries. Now they are considering legal action.

In July, SalmonBusiness reported that the salmon farmers in Norway were considering a large lawsuit against the Norwegian government. They said that they believe that neither the legal nor the knowledgeable basis is good enough in the new traffic light system. They also say there is no professional basis for the imposed reduction of production in the area, and indicate that the deposits of lice are lower than in many years.

“When the government imposes a large-scale reduction in production and value creation in the area, we must expect that the basis for the decision is solid and verifiable. Predictability and scientific anchoring were a prerequisite when the traffic light system was introduced. However, we have uncovered large gaps in the professional basis on which the decision to reduce it is based,” said Even Søfteland, spokesperson for the aquaculture companies, in a press release on Wednesday afternoon.

Must reduce
Earlier this year, the Ministry of  Fisheries decided that Production Area 4, which stretches from Nordhordland to Stadt, Western Norway, will be coloured red in the new Traffic Light System. This means that all companies in the area must reduce their production by six per-cent. Based on the lack of knowledge for the decision, fish farmers have long warned of legal action.

Notice of legal action was sent on 3rd June. Authorities have tried to come to terms with constructive solutions. Salmon farmers have proposed solutions such as lowering production by as much as 12 per-cent in the spring, a period that is the most vulnerable period for wild salmon migrations.

“In the Ministry’s response, they showed a willingness to enter into dialogue to discuss solutions. We have of course followed up this invitation, but unfortunately, our attempts at dialogue have not been answered. We find this very regrettable, and we now see no other possibility than that the court must consider the case,” said Søfteland.

Søfteland emphasised that the fish farmers are not opposed to the traffic light system, but clarified that the disagreement is about the professional basis that under the foundation for the reduction. He pointed out that they have implemented a number of coordinated and targeted measures that have shown a very good effect. As a result of the measures, lice numbers in the area are far below the limit levels, and he believes it is paradoxical that the government is now imposing a reduction in production.

“Reducing the production of the country’s second most important export commodity by six per-cent has major consequences for local communities, subcontractors and the municipalities’ tax revenues. When such an intervention against the industry is implemented, we must expect that the professional and legal assessments behind it are rock solid. That is not the case in this case, and we are therefore now bringing the case to the judicial system,” said Søfteland.


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