NORWEGIAN government plans to abolish the duty obligations around the country’s deep sea fishing fleet have brought mixed views from within the industry.
Fisheries minister Per Sandberg (pictured) has published a White Paper on the industry, outlining changes to the present regulatory framework.
He said the so called ‘duties’ belong to an outdated policy measure and he believes his changes will encourage greater flexibility and innovation in fishing operations.
But another purpose is to promote fishing in northern coast communities, which the government believes has suffered in recent years. However, that will mean a reduction in cod quotas for many of the larger vessels.
The duty obligations are a set of rules affecting about half of the cod fishing fleet and consist of three obligations on fishing and processing.
The scheme has also been controversial and has symbolic value within the industry.
Salmon farmer Leroy Seafood, which bought the fishing company Havfisk last year, said that even though the government understood the need for modernisation the company faced quota cuts of up to 20 per cent and this could be quite devastating for some of the fishing ports where its trawlers are based.
The Norwegian Fishing Vessel Owners Federation described the move as a huge step backwards, saying it will increase uncertainty and lessen the desire to invest. It was also unacceptable that quotas were being cut back.
The federation is calling for further discussions with Sandberg and the government in a bid to lessen the impact.
But Tommy Torvanger, head of the integrated fishing company Nergård AS, thought the government moves were positive, allowing the company to fish free from a lot of rules.
‘I think it is very positive. We will be freer to use fish without having to pay attention to a lot of rules. It means so much to us that we can control the fish from catch to production.’