“A reduction of biomass at this time of year seems like a double penalty”

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Fish farmer Erik Osland does not believe that politicians are aware of the harm they are inflicting on the industry by a collective reduction of biomass at a time trout prices are dropping.

On Monday evening, the Norwegian seafood association Sjømatbedriftene headed by chief executive Robert Eriksson asked the Minister of Fisheries to extend the maximum allowed biomass (MAB) by 20 per-cent for the purpose of remedying a dreaded price collapse for trout. Eriksson suggested destroying the fish that cannot be sold.

Trout farmer and processor Roger Hofseth quickly rejected the need for such emergency measures.

“We can take a beating,” Hofseth said, adding that there are no fish farmers struggling in Norway.

After many good years, he said he beleived they have the chops to bear short-term losses.

Vulnerable
Another trout farmer, Erik Osland from Høyanger, Western Norway, thinks authorities should take action for several reasons.

“Trout farmers have at times been more vulnerable to market turmoil than salmon because they traditionally have a more volatile market, such as Russia. When Russia closes, one becomes very vulnerable,” Osland told SalmonBusiness.

Erik Jarle Osland is general manager of Osland Settefisk. PHOTO: Salmon Group

“There is now a difficult market in the US, which we see Chile struggling with, which reinforces the market problem for the trout likened with the salmon.”

In particular, the forced reduction of biomass in Western Norway is problematic, he believes.

Forced downward adjustment
“A forced downward adjustment of trout biomass in PO4 and PO5 (production region 4 and 5 .ed) during a period of the year when we know it is traditionally the worst prices and the start of the main season on the harvest of trout is very unfortunate.

Osland wants governments and management to change a reduction – often at a different time of year.

“Reduction at this time of year seems like a double penalty. Parliament cannot possibly be aware of and think about the damage it will cause,” he said. “For the regions PO4 and PO5, which produce a lot of trout, there will be even more punishment, three-fold.”

“As everyone also knows, there is no problem with lice on wild salmon in the region in autumn and winter and its too incomprehensible that the reduction should be now,” continued Osland.

“The simple and right move is to grant an exemption on the drawdown with a new deadline for the spring,” he added.

Photo: Osland Havbruk

Low lice numbers
The salmon farmers in the two production areas PO4 and PO5, in Western Norway, acted collectively when earlier this summer they announced a possible lawsuit against the government. They believe that neither the legal nor the knowledgeable basis is good enough in the new Traffic Light system.

A key point for them is that the lice numbers in Western Norway have been very low. In the last four years, the figures have been far lower than the maximum limits. This is because coordinated measures have been taken among all salmon farmers in PO4 during the period.

Especially in the period when the smolt migrates out from the rivers, which is critical, the numbers have been low. The fish farmers in PO4 have thus succeeded in their lice measures. Not once have lice numbers crossed the limit for adult female lice.