The aquaculture industry should follow up with sanctions against Russia

Aslak Berge

It works. Just look at the story.

Few, if any, companies in this industry stick with more PR consultants than Cargill. It takes enough to explain and communicate some of their business choices. The American feed giant is among the worst in the deforestation of the Amazon, which has been difficult to explain away.

The same applies to its business relations with the Russian aquaculture industry. In response to repeated direct questions about whether the company sells fish feed to Russia, Cargill answers neither in the affirmative nor in the negative. At the same time, SalmonBusiness has followed the feed boat “Aleksander Gusev”‘s journey from Cargill’s factory on Bergneset towards the fjords on the Kola peninsula.

Moral issues
Deforestation in the Amazon and doing business with people operating in military-controlled areas, with close ties to the Kremlin, are above all moral questions: Is this acceptable? Is that what we want?

In an industry where “sustainability” is hopefully not just a buzzword and an empty cliché, this should be on the agenda in any boardroom. When witnessing the incomprehensible tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, we should all come together to help.

Comment: Aslak Berge

And then, of course, one can state: Does it matter if a company does business with Russia? Will it be able to affect anything or change the course of the war? Why are sanctions really necessary? Does it work?

It worked during the Napoleonic Wars. The fact that the British defeated the French fleet, stopped supplies of colonial goods and blocked French-controlled ports was absolutely crucial. Tsarist Russia’s cooperation and trade with the British was also a central reason why Napoleon sent La Grande Arme to war against Russia in 1812. He captured Moscow and the Kremlin, but between 80 and 90 percent of his soldiers froze to death or were defeated on the way home.

How badly the sanctions, and especially the supply of grain, hit Napoleon’s ally Denmark-Norway, has been immortalized in Henrik Ibsen’s poem about “Terje Vigen”.

The British followed the same recipe during the First World War. It was calories, not grenades, that broke the Germans. The peace of November 1918 was concluded without the Allies having set foot on German soil. 700,000 Germans starved to death during World War I.

Britain wanted to follow this strategy during World War II but changed its mind immediately after the sinking of the battleship “Royal Oak” and the aircraft carrier “Courageus” during the first month of the war.

In any case, access to resources should again be the weight on the scales, not least for the Soviet Union. Stalin received invaluable supplies from the Americans. Converted to today’s currency, the Soviet Union received $180 billion worth of American vehicles, fighter jets, food, ammunition and weapons during the war years. It was about to break down the German armored divisions.

A shortage of supplies, not least through a closed Black Sea, was central when Russia lost the Crimean War against Britain, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and France in the mid-1850s. A war that, above all, revealed that Russia was not keeping up financially and technologically with the great powers in the West.

This is exactly what was repeated in the First World War, when Russia collapsed in the face of superior German armies and had to seek a contemptuous and humiliating peace agreement before the country was thrown into a violent revolution.

When one sees Putin’s Russia struggling heavily in the war against Ukraine, which is increasingly armed by the West, it seems clear that access to trade and supplies from abroad is invaluable. Now he is desperately seeking support from China to avoid losing face, as Russia is not self-sufficient.

Sanctions mean something. The salmon industry should stop exporting smolts, wellboat services and fish feed to Russia.


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