Land-based salmon farm risks getting project pulled as authorities have doubts it is actually “land-based”

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The Norwegian Directorate has issued a notice to a local authority’s decision to grant land-based salmon farm licences to Losna Seafood. This is because the directorate doubts whether the company’s planned facilities will be located on land or in the sea.

It has been three weeks since founder Geir Nordahl-Pedersen and Losna Seafood were able to celebrate that they had been granted a licence by authorities for a gigantic mountain salmon farm project.

But the party may be over if the country’s Directorate decides to overturn the decision of the county council.

In doubt
In a letter, which SalmonBusiness has been given access to, the Directorate warned that the project could be pulled.

“The reason for the notification of commutation is that the Directorate of Fisheries has seen early sketches of the site and has doubts whether the facility is “on land”, cf. section 28d of the Salmon Award Regulations Act.

“If the facility is not “on land”, the decision of the county council will be invalid. The county council is not permitted to grant permission for land-based aquaculture of salmon, trout and rainbow trout in the sea if the aquaculture activities are in the sea,” the Directorate wrote in the letter.

Geir Nordahl-Pedersen

The Norwegian Directorate further refers to the licence where it says: “Vestland county council considers that the facility is placed on land within the coastal contours. We have, as the Norwegian Mapping Authority, used coastal contour as a border between sea and land, where the height at medium high tides is laid up as a limit in the coastal contour.”

The Directorate believes this reasoning does not make it possible to determine whether the salmon farm is placed on land, and has therefore requested all documents in the case from the county municipality.

“I find it very strange”
The Directorate also requested that Losna Seafood speak out in the case by 20th of May 2020. 

Losna had a reply by the 22nd, it was ok to remove deadline from the 25 to 29th to respond to the alert about license being cancelled. So they asked for extension in reply-time, as it was a lot of documentation. The Directorate responded two days later, saying they had four extra days to respond, which they did.

Geir Nordahl-Pedersen confirmed to SalmonBusiness that the company has now submitted the report to the Directorate. However, he is very surprised by the notice.

“What to say? I think it’s very strange. It came from nowhere, and I don’t know what’s behind this,” he said, adding that the company has been granted a licence based on current regulations and obtained through the onshore zoning plan.

Nordahl-Pedersen believes that the Directorate is trying to define that the facility is sea-based even if, according to him, it will be on land. Losna Seafood’s facility will use flow through site with 16-18 closed containments, which move in a closed pool. Seawater is collected at a depth of 75m and is cleaned using a filter.

“They seem to think we should be in a cove, but that’s not the case. The facility will be on shore,” said Nordahl-Pedersen, who hopes the Directorate has misunderstood the drawings of the facility.

According to Nordahl-Pedersen, the Directorate participated in a start-up meeting on the project and has been involved in the process since 2016.

“They have been well informed, without saying anything along the way. They also had no objections in connection with the application for a licence,” Nordahl-Pedersen emphasised.

At the same time, he drew parallels with other land-based salmon farm projects, which have been granted a licence.

“As far as I can see, there are no rules that if you build on land but go under the tide, you are in the sea. Furthermore, other similar projects have been granted a licence, lowering the salmon farm to save up to 90 per cent of energy costs. I think of Andfjord Salmon and Bulandet Miljøfisk,” he added.

Losna seen from Krakhellesundet. Photo: Aslak Berge

First time
SalmonBusiness asked the Directorate why they have doubts about whether the facilty will be on land or not.

“As stated in our letter on the 15th. In May, the directorate doubts whether the salmon farm is located on land based on early sketches of the site. The descriptions in the decision of the county council make it impossible in the directorate’s view to determine whether the facility is on land. The case is under consideration, and the directorate has no comment beyond this,” senior adviser Linn H. Vetaas of the Directorate replied in an email.

SalmonBusiness also asked the Directorate to comment on Nordahl-Pedersen’s statements, especially with their knowledge of the project for a long time.

“According to the salmon allocation regulations, the county municipality will process applications for permission for aquaculture of land-based salmon farms. The Directorate is central to the county authorities’ decision. In addition, the Directorate has no comment,” Vetaas replied.

According to Vetaas, the Directorate will process the case as quickly as possible, and it is aimed at having it processed by the end of the month.

Do you know if there has previously been such notice of conversion at land-based salmon farms?

“The Directorate of Fisheries is not aware that since the introduction of Chapter 5a of the Salmon Allocation Regulations chapter, there has been a notice for the conversion of permits for the production of salmon, trout and rainbow trout on land,” Vetaas replied.

While Nordahl-Pedersen waits for the case to be processed, he continues to work on the project. On Monday, he was with an archaeologist to look at what needs to be done by excavations in the area.

“I adhere that we have a licence, but it is clear this complicates everything,” he concluded.