Escaped farmed cod are a problem for Norwegian fishermen in Åmnes. Photo: Lars-Gøran Ulriksen

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has requested a meeting with the Ministry on farmed cod. Photo: Lars-Gøran Ulriksen

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association have asked the Directorate of Fisheries to temporarily stop all new permits for cod farming against the background of ongoing challenges.

In Meløy municipality in Nordland, fishermen have reported what they believe to be escaped farmed cod. The Institute of Marine Research, the Directorate of Fisheries, and Nofima have confirmed that this is most likely true.

The Directorate this week notified fishermen that the farmed cod will not be deducted from their wild fish cod quota, but the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association have asked for a meeting as soon with the Ministry as possible to review the situation on farmed cod.

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“The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has for more than 10 years had a clear line linked to cod farming, which is now also pointed out by the politicians after many large escape incidents of cod from farms,” said the Association’s leader Kåre Heggebø.

Today, Friday 10 January, the Association sent a comprehensive letter to the Ministry, in which they reiterated and emphasised their basic stance on the slow and safe development of a new cod farming industry, versus rapid and risky growth.

“Central issues related to cod farming have still not been resolved. We have pointed this out for a long time. The National Board and our letter to the ministry are also crystal clear on this,” says Heggebø. “It must be an overarching national objective that cod farming is not built up at the expense of the marine environment, wild cod stocks or the operating basis and profitability for Norwegian fishermen”. 

He says the Fishermen’s Association believes that the current development in the cod farming industry is not justifiable. 

But at the same time Heggebø points out that it is positive that the Directorate of Fisheries has been on the ball in recent days. He says, “This shows that it is important to have cooperation between all of us who operate in the coastal zone related to observing, reporting and taking measures.

“In this case, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association was quick to act, and the Directorate of Fisheries has now emphasised that escaped farmed cod shall not be deducted from the cod quota. This is in accordance with what we believe, and the Directorate of Fisheries probably does not have authority for this either.

“We expect the cod farmers to have control over their fish and set a high standard for their operation. It is a danger signal that such a marginal and new industry is so strongly overrepresented when it comes to escapes, points out the leader of the Fishermen’s Association.”

Excerpt from our letter to NFD

In its letter to the Ministry of Trade and Fisheries, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has pointed out the need for political action to be taken now. We highlight a number of arguments, and repeated points that we have had over time as basic requirements and expectations for the development of the new industry.

  • Cod is found to escape to a far greater extent than other farmed species.
  • Catches of escaped cod have been deducted from the fishermen’s quota base. This is unacceptable. It is positive that the Directorate of Fisheries now appears to be moving away from this practice.
  • Already when the regulations for cod farming were under consultation in 2009, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association asked that: “Cod farmers must be ordered to start recapture fishing as soon as there are justified grounds for suspecting that escape has occurred. Today’s arrangements for recapture still only cover escaped salmon.
  • The Institute of Marine Research and others point out that the risk of the spread of disease and genetic influence on wild cod stocks is also a significant challenge in cod farming. 
  • In the government’s Strategy for sustainable future-oriented cod farming (2009), it was established that requirements should be introduced for zero emissions of eggs and fry in cod farming by 2015. There are still no established arrangements to ensure this.
Not justifiable

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association say, “In conclusion, we point out in our letter that “today’s development in the cod farming industry is not justifiable. The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association therefore requests that the processing of new permits and locations for cod farming be put on hold until the above questions have been clarified in more detail. We are also asking for an early meeting with the ministry on the matter.”

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Norwegian fishermen seeks meeting with Ministry on farmed cod

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