Authorities say that fish must be processed in Norway to preserve the reputation of Norwegian fish.
The harvest boat “Norwegian Gannet” has been told by the government it cannot process some of its fish. The Norwegian Ministry of Food and Fisheries initally granted an exception to the vessel requiring fish be sorted in Norway, but now that has been overturned.
The revolutionary harvest vessel is meant to process fish straight from the cages to harvest on board. The boat will go between fish pens in western Norway to a brand new fishing terminal in Hirtshals, Denmark. The plan was ready to go within weeks.
The boat will replace 7,000 truck journeys a year.
But on paragraph 17 of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s quality regulations could put an end to that boat. A clause in the regulations states that farmed fish with sores or malformations, so-called “production fish”, can not be sent directly to abroad.
In October, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority initially issued an exemption to Hav Line Group – owners of “Norwegian Gannet” – from section 17, but the Ministry has now lifted it.
The exemption had allowing for the vessel to take lower quality “processing” salmon (that can have wounds, disease, deformaties or defects) out of Norwegian waters, for sorting and processing before reaching Denmark.
However the Ministry pointed out that the purpose of the regulation is to promote good quality fish and fish products to consumer and contribute to market access for Norwegian fish and Norwegian fishery products abroad.
The requirement was introduced in 1996, and is regarded as a reputation permit, according to the Ministry.
It says that “processing” fish: those with wounds and deficiencies end up in the market, that it can have negative consequences for the entire industry.
“Loss of reputation will not only affect manufacturers and exporters, but will potentially also have negative socio-economic effects,” the ministry wrote in its decision.
The Ministry also stressed that emphasis was not to do with keeping Norwegian jobs in the interpretation of section 17.
Hav Line has again applied for an exemption, restating its case, it added.
Carl-Erik Arnesen, the company’s chief executive said in an email to Sysla that “Norwegian Gannet” is in danger of not being able to get into operation.
“Far from overtime, and not from the professional authorities, but from the ministry, we are now experiencing a political turnaround,” he told Sysla.
“It is incomprehensible to me that it is politicians, with a bourgeois government at the forefront, and not the administration that bent over backwards this,” he said.
The Ministry of Industry and Fisheries has submitted a number of questions from Sysla, but has not yet replied.