Norwegian “opinion” divided on whether Russia might open to salmon from Norway in 2018.
In 2013, Russia was Norway’s most valuable seafood market, and normally it would be a market that takes in 150,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon. That’s double the Chinese market.
In 2014, Russia imposed a ban on seafood imports from the European Union, Norway, Canada and the United Kingdom in response to sanctions imposed on Russia’s energy sector over a complex of events in Ukraine.
Have to believe
Deputy Norwegian Fisheries minister, Roy Angelvik, told a fisheries audience on Monday that he was optimistic Russian could be re-opened as a market.
What makes you optimistic, SalmonBusiness asked Mr. Angelvik.
“There’s nothing new here. My point when I get this question is, that I would be lying if I didn’t say yes. It’s this that I work toward, that we have a good dialogue with Russia. It’s going in the right direction. It would be strange had I said otherwise,” Angelvik said.
But is this knot between Norway and Russia solvable, or might it get worse?
“My point is that I have faith we’ll make it happen. You have to understand my role, Ole Alexander. I am a politician, and my guidance is that Russia will open, and I believe it. Obviously, we see that there are challenges, but we have faith that their solvable. It would be unusual if had any other advice.
So, regardless of how dark the situation is, you’re saying you’re optimistic?
“I am optimistic as long as a possibility exists. Obviously.”
A bigger problem
Borge Prytz Larsen, who gets first-hand information on Russia as director of importer, Severnaya, praised the government’s work but said he sees no grounds for optimism that Russia will open in 2018.
“This is not about Norway-Russia but Russia-U.S.A and the sanctions. The Norwegian Embassy in Russia, Norway and especially the (Norwegian) Fisheries Ministry are doing an extremely good job of improving relations with Russia,” Prytz Larsen said, adding that the European Union was also involved.
Do you believe there’ll be a Russia opening in 2018?
“No, there’s so sign of that, so why should one believe,” said Prytz Larsen, adding, that it could still come when you least expect it.
“This debate (Russia “yes” or “no”) often starts up whenever more fish need to be moved out of Norway. Think about it. When more fish show up, you need more markets. It’s okay to be optimistic and okay to be a realist. I’m sitting on a lot of info on this side, and it’s not Norway that holds the key,” he said.
Alexandre Leonchanka, manager in Norwegian exporter, Ice Seafood, says he has little faith in progress opening Russia in 2018.
“No, I don’t believe in it. There’s an election in Russia on March 18th, so (Russian President Vladimir Putin) will be back in power for a new term. The West won’t like that too good. They’ll stick to the sanctions and Norway will fall in with what the EU and USA say, so it’ll keep going as long as they don’t agree on (Crimea joining Russia), and they don’t,” he said.
“I don’t believe in an opening, unfortunately. It would have been nice, but it’s becoming difficult,” said, adding that he didn’t think it was a problem the Fisheries Ministry could solve.
“It wasn’t decided in Norway. It was decided in the U.S. and the EU. Norway is little, it’s allied with the EU and the US, and they’ll walk together.”