Fish health and research company STIM has warned of the potential severe impact of Norway’s proposed aquaculture tax at a time when the industry is already embroiled in a series of challenges.
“Extreme political measures like the proposed new tax in Norway has already had an enormous negative effect on the industry and the idea of a stable political environment for businesses to operate in,” Campbell Morrison, STIM’s key account manager, told SalmonBusiness.
“We have seen plummeting shareholder values and major investments put on hold all along the coastline. Luckily, it is just a proposal and, along with the rest of the industry, we will have to argue as to why this major tax increase is unsustainable and would be detrimental to the industry reaching government set growth targets, and that it will in fact decimate coastal communities all along Norway, communities that have seen tremendous positive effects brought on by an industry willing and able to invest locally. A major taxation like this will ultimately not benefit anyone,” he added.
Combatting ISA outbreaks
While ISA hasn’t become a point of concern in Scotland, where STIM is based, salmon farmers in other regions have seen a number of outbreaks afflicting their sites in recent months.
“The current regulations in Norway are not enough to prevent further ISA outbreaks. The prevalence of HPR-0 variant of the virus in fish farms both land-based and sea sites are abundant, and over time it will mutate to the virulent form of ISA. Stamping out will not be sufficient,” he stated.
“To be able to prevent it, we need more knowledge about the spread of HPR-0, vaccination protocols and knowledge about factors that contribute to mutation of the virus. Since the outbreaks in 2020 in Northern Norway, many smaller fish farmers decided to vaccinate the fish, finding the source, and put down a lot of effort in decontamination of the hatcheries. So far it seems to be successful. As with all infectious diseases, prevention is key.”
Focus on health and welfare drives demand
STIM has seen a spike in demand for its own Supersmolt Feed, which prides itself on providing benefits for smolt producers and on growers, as companies have increasingly focused on health and welfare, as environmental policies come under the spotlight.
“The SuperSmolt technology really is a game-changer in terms of
ensuring health and welfare in the critical period after sea transfer, something which also translates to major economic benefits for the fish farmer.”
“Having fish that really goes after the feed and starts growing from day one at sea, is clearly beneficial. We have seen a significant increase in demand both in Scotland and Norway this year,” he added.
Victory in the courtroom
Earlier this year, STIM prevailed in a court battle with fellow feed company BioMar, with the latter ordered to pay NOK 36 million (€3.6 million) over a breach of patent. The dispute centred on a claim from STIM that BioMar’s Intro Tuning smoltification feed infringed its own SuperSmolt Feed Only.
Morrison stated that STIM was “thrilled” at the result. “The decision from the Supreme Court was as expected based on previous court rulings. Nevertheless, it was a very important decision in that it confirms that innovations can and should be protected.”
The industry needs companies that are willing to invest heavily in R&D, and that will not happen without a framework that protects their innovations. Legal battles like this one are horribly time-consuming, but in this case, it was both necessary and important to bring this issue to court,” he added.