“Perhaps six of the companies that have so far exported to Belarus can continue”

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The Russian veterinary service Rosselkhoznadzor was supposed to inspect Norwegian fish processing companies by the end of this month, but this is impossible due to the corona situation. Nevertheless, it may be appropriate for Russia to open the borders for goods produced from Norwegian farmed fish.

It was in January that Russia stopped importing Norwegian salmon and trout via Belarus because the Russians claimed that it had found traces of crystal violet in its farmed fish.

However, when the Norwegian Food Safety Authority later conducted inspections at several Norwegian fish processing companies, they found no traces of crystal violet.

Chief Veterinary Officer Knut Rønningen, Norwegian Food Safety Authority. PHOTO Andreas Høglund/EU Delegation

In March, the Russians were scheduled to visit Norwegian processing companies, but this is now postponed due to the coronavirus situation, Chief Veterinary Officer Knut Rønningen of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority told SalmonBusiness. The findings say authority was informed about the postponement in a letter to Belarusian veterinary authorities with a copy to both Rossolkhoznadzor and the other member states of the Eurasian Economic Union

“We do not envisage that the inspections may take place over the next six months, but we wrote that they were most welcome when the coronavirus situation has calmed down,” said Rønningen.

“We also emphasised that if they did not have the opportunity to come because of the coronavirus situation, we would offer to have an extra eye on businesses in Norway that supply to Belarus,” he added.

Open for export again
He says the Food Safety Authority has not heard anything from neither Belarus nor Russia after the letter was sent.

“It is difficult to interpret what it means when we do not hear anything. Perhaps the Russians have cancelled because of the coronavirus, but complete silence can mean many things. However, we have not considered it a serious threat from the Russians related to the situation that has arisen”.

The survey also stated that they do not know so much about the consequences of inspections being postponed.

“But we have heard from people in the (Norwegian) Seafood Council that maybe six of the companies that have so far exported to Belarus can continue with that. But this information is unauthorized, and we can’t say that much more right now. The seafood area is well-oriented, so we trust them, but nothing is officially confirmed from Belarus or Russia,” emphasised Rønningen.

Letter of intent
He said he has experienced Belarusian authorities as very solution-oriented after the Russians closed the border on import and transit of goods produced from Norwegian farmed fish.

“They are, in a way, mostly sliced up as Norwegian salmon and trout probably meant a bit to their business. They are concerned that the Russians have closed the limit for Norwegian farmed fish. They want to come up with a solution that all parties are served with,” said Rønningen.

At the same time, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority is working on a Memorandum of Understanding with Belarus.

“There is a cooperation agreement at the government level that will contain wordings on the exchange of knowledge in the veterinary field and relevant information, which may be relevant in similar situations later,” concluded Rønningen.