Salmon producer calls for duty-free EU access to ‘production fish’

Kjartan Aa Berge

Ola Braanaas, the owner of Norwegian salmon producer Firda Seafood has called for duty-free EU access to ‘production fish’.

Ola Braanaas, the proprietor of Norwegian salmon producer Firda Seafood, is advocating for reduced protectionism and bureaucracy in the Norwegian salmon farming industry, emphasizing the need for equal treatment and forward-thinking solutions.

Despite this year’s considerable challenges, including issues with damaged and deformed fish known as “prodfish,” Braanaas says that not all industry participants have been equally affected.

While noting hat his own company hasn’t suffered as much as some others, he has expressed concern about the current state of the industry and is calling for a paradigm shift.

Proposing an alternative approach, Braanaas suggests eliminating the requirement to process damaged fish within Norway and instead pursue an agreement for duty-free market access to the EU.

“It could be an idea for the authorities to release the prod fish, and then rather negotiate an agreement that gives Norway duty-free access to the EU for processed products,” he wrote in an e-mail to Norwegian aquaculture news site, iLaks.

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Bureaucratic turnover

Braanaas emphasizes the importance of simplicity in regulations to prevent irregularities, advocating for equal treatment and freedom of choice. He suggests allowing exporters to select their preferred processors rather than enforcing protectionist measures.

“This should happen by giving everyone the opportunity to export the fish to the processors they may prefer, rather than making a big protectionist exercise out of it,” he says.

In Braanaas’s view, streamlined market access with minimal obstacles would benefit the industry most. He believes that Norway’s farming sector has thrived by embracing open markets and reducing bureaucratic hurdles that stifle competition.

“It has served the Norwegian farming industry well to turn towards the open market, rather than having bureaucratic and heavy sales links that keep competition down. We strongly believe in free competition with less protectionism and bureaucracy,” he says.

Today’s winners

Identifying the current winners in the industry, Braanaas points to processors, particularly noting the competition for raw materials in his region. He observes that those with exemptions from quality regulations and farmers who can sell at higher prices have a competitive advantage.

“In our region, we notice it most in the competition for the raw material for the processors. Those who have a lot of commercial fish of course send it directly to Hirtshals and get paid significantly better for it there,” he tells iLaks.

According to Braanaas, the winners are those who have an exemption from the quality regulations, as well as those farmers who can sell fish at a higher price.

“This situation obviously benefits those who have a dispensation to take the production fish out of the country and into the open market, and not least the breeder who gets paid better for the fish he has produced,” he points out.


Firda Seafood Managing Director Robert Holmøy Eriksson has previously commented on the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries minister Kristina Hansen’s statement that the industry must solve the production fish challenges itself.

Braanaas agrees with Eriksson, deeming it an oversimplification.

“Saying that the industry has to clean up itself is cop out”, says the Firda Seafood owner. “Firstly, it is the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s clear responsibility to enforce the regulations. Secondly, it is a public responsibility to ensure competition on equal terms.


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