Norwegian Fisheries Minister said the salmon farming industry needs to clean up

Cecilie Myrseth thinks it is only the salmon farming industry itself that can ensure trust and a good reputation among the population.
Cecilie Myrseth, Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy.
Cecilie Myrseth, Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy.Photo: Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans of Norway.

Coinciding with Cecilie Myrseth's arrival as head of the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries just over a month ago, a series of news stories about illnesses and irregularities in the processing of farmed salmon with injuries and deformities have shaken public opinion in the country. So last Friday, she called Sjømat Norge (Seafood Norway), seafood companies, and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) to discuss animal welfare. "I think the industry needs to clean up," the minister told Norwegian business media E24 after the meeting.

In statements reported in NRK, another local media, she went further and, after describing the meeting as "good and constructive," said: "Lately, we have seen images of situations that we do not want in such an important industry for the country. The aquaculture industry has stated that they will clean up."

It is the industry's responsibility to follow the rules

Recently the Norwegian Food Safety Authority reported that, following an inspection campaign to determine whether the handling of farmed fish with injuries, deformities, serious processing errors or other defects is in accordance with fish quality standards, it was found that farmed salmon with injuries and deformities had been illegally taken out of the country.

"I find it sad that when we talk about the aquaculture industry, it's now a question of whether they take care of animal welfare well enough," Cecilie Myrseth told E24, after describing the images that accompanied the news as "completely unacceptable." In addition, the detection of diseases in several farms of major companies - the latest affected was Mowi, with two confirmed cases of pancreas disease - led the Minister to convene this meeting on fish welfare and diseases in farming.

Myrseth insisted that, especially in the wake of these events, the industry's reputation and trust have become a major challenge. She further emphasized that if it has nothing to hide, the industry should not oppose, rather the contrary, any form of supervision and control.

"I think the industry needs to clean up. They need to take action. It is only they themselves who can ensure that they have trust and a good reputation among the population," she told E24. The Minister also said that her job is to ensure that there are strict regulations and that controls are in place to ensure compliance. "But it is the industry's own responsibility to actually follow the rules," she added.

To ensure a sustainable industry with a focus on animal welfare

She also stated that there is no point in having strict rules if they are not followed and reminded that the rules must be complied with regardless of the fines associated with non-compliance. The Norwegian Fisheries Minister was also open to dialogue to improve the industry.

"It is important to have a good dialogue between the parties with an industry concerned about the situation and concerned about ensuring a good reputation. But the industry itself is responsible for cleaning up its reputation. My goal is to look forward to how we can ensure a sustainable industry with a focus on animal welfare," said the Minister in statements reported in NRK.

In 2024, the government will present to Parliament a report about animal welfare, including fish. It will be the first time this has been done in 20 years and the Minister hopes it will contribute to the development of the industry and make it easier to operate and understand. The important thing for her, she said, is to ensure that they have a system that guarantees greater sustainability and a smaller climate footprint.

"We must have arrangements that ensure sustainability, fewer emissions, and better fish welfare, while also contributing to building communities and, not least, creating jobs along our coast," the Minister told E24.


'Krever at lakseoppdretterne tar grep: – Helt uakseptabelt', E24 article by Camilla Knudsen.

'Fiskeriministeren: Oppdrettsnæringen må rydde opp', NRK article by Anne Cecilie Remen & Line Tomter.

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