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The debate about salmon

The debate on the future of the aquaculture and fisheries industry is characterized by unclear intentions and a lack of long-term perspectives. It is more important to enable people to participate in the debate than to convince that "Salmon is important for Norway".

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian

The Norwegian fishery resources have been further privatized by the latest governments, whether they have been red-green or blue-blue. Provisions on who has the right to fish and under what conditions have been made through gradual changes and dewatering – without the Storting or most people having a good dialogue about the direction further. The opinions of those who disagree are often rejected because they see the changes in a larger context. Nature and Youth believe that the fishing industry is moving away from a sustainable environmental and coastal society, and instead is on the way to a system where the accounts of the major industry players are assessed ahead of the value added to the country.

New quota system

On the table at the Ministry of Trade and Fisheries there are now several different proposals for the future of the smallest coastal fleet. This fleet group is important when it comes to recruiting young people, because it is possible to establish themselves without having to pay millions for a quota. This fleet also fishes with both environmentally friendly gear and with a much lower CO2 emissions, than large fishing vessels. The current government has made several changes that ease the restrictions on quota sales and increase quota prices in the other coastal fleet, but quota sales have not been possible in the smallest coastal fleet. If one opens up to collect quotas on fewer boats even in the smallest coastal fleet, high quota prices will make it much more difficult for young people to enter here as well. Unfortunately, the ministry consultation note, which deals with this issue, loses all credibility when dealing with the future quota system, without mentioning the recruitment of a new generation of fishermen.

Weaknesses of the traffic light system

The aquaculture industry has grown faster than it is able to handle lice, escape and pollution, as the OAG pointed out in its management audit at the latest in 2016. Nevertheless, development licenses are distributed to large open farms. The industry is – and will be – important for Norway, but we must change a lot in the way we produce salmon if it is not to have too great consequences.

The traffic light system is presented by the government as an environmental measure, but in reality it is a way of offering production growth.

Last year, the traffic light system was introduced to allow for production growth in areas where the environment has the highest tolerability, but the system has such large deficiencies that the environmental concerns end on the loser side. The traffic light system is presented by the government as an environmental measure, but is in fact a way of offering production growth – without having to consider the overall impact on the environment. When explaining aquaculture to young people, it is not difficult to explain how the traffic light system works, but it is incredibly difficult to explain how Norway allows 30 percent of wild emigrating salmon smolts to die because of lice from farming.

Youth must have a place in the debate

It seems that many forcibly forget that policy is not practiced only for those who own quotas or salmon licenses today. Nor for the fortunate situation we have today, where we have consistently had high total quotas and high prices for seafood. The policy is to ensure that the industry is also equipped for future generations and times, where there is not as much fish in the sea, where prices fall, where the impact on the environment becomes too great, or we face other and greater challenges. We are not served by a fishing industry where the players have large debts due to high quota prices, and who cannot tolerate a year of low quotas, or a farming industry where the wild salmon strains from which the farmed salmon originate cannot be preserved.

The government's fisheries policy makes it more difficult for young people to establish themselves as coastal fishermen. 

The government's fisheries policy makes it more difficult for young people to establish themselves as coastal fishers, but even this government must stay too good at leading the policy in a way that excludes youth from the debate. Who gets to fish for community resources, what fishing methods are prioritized, and how much environmental impact we allow in our fjords, are decisions that are too important to be taken piecemeal and under the radar for us who have no self-interest in the industries. Great resources are being spent through the Norwegian Seafood Council to campaign "Salmon is important for Norway", but little is being done to include more in the debate on the future fish farming and fisheries industry: A debate that is incredibly important for Norway.

Hugstmyr Woie Former Central Board Member in Nature and Youth.

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