Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Banana Republic, er, Salmon Republic, er, Norway - Kjersti Sandvik

The government in Norway is not as monolithic a beast as it is in Canada where the largest party becomes the entire government. If you get elected in Norway, you are part of the government.

In other words, sensible members of the government, seeing the wild profits in the industry, and the reselling of licenses for as much as 30Million Kroner (second sale) speculation - $4.8 million - and out of country, which meant they didn't go to small producers and didn't result in much local employment weren't keen on the system.

The Conservatives (in Canada, the Harper Conservatives pretty much lead the charge to deal out licenses) and Progress Party wanted to liquidate the system for its wild profit swings, and that the licenses were intended to help Norwegians with jobs and careers, but the corporate owners had no interest in the social side funding they were supposed to do to receive a license. Since the 1990s, these members have wanted the system ended. But the industry said, I don't think so.

Sandvik: "Fisheries Thor Listau (H) took up licensing policy already in 1982 but met resistance from the industry." 

So Norway is in its fourth decade right now since the first anti-license government members were unhappy with their own industry.

In those days, fish farm companies said there would be no need to set money aside for disease research because: "farms would require stringent environmental, sanitary and veterinary control."

So, for almost forty years, fish farms have been using the tired expression that they: operate under the strictest laws in the world in the country they are in. Unfortunately, last year they said it in Norway, Chile, Scotland and Canada.

Of course, this is is untrue because all four countries have different laws and cannot be the strictest in the world. It is just part of fish farm spin. And in Chile, if you look at my News Bites post, you will know that the algal bloom, that in part has been caused by fish farm sewage, killed 25 Million salmon, some 125,000 metric tonnes of dead salmon, and 5,000 workers laid off, by companies like Marine Harvest and Cermaq. A 'sanitary' disaster.

And  you don't have to cruise very far in global fish farm news to hear the tired old 'strictest laws' statement. And, soon thereafter, the companies start pressuring the government to weaken the laws, which is what happened in 2015 in the Atlantic provinces. When it was announced, fish farms 'strictest laws' expression has not been heard since. Now, they claim, the changes were about modernizing the laws. More fish farm spin.

 In Norway, the Conservatives tried to get rid of the licensing system in 2000, with Ivar Kristiansen leading the charge. Terje Knutsen from Progress offered support. In 2008 the Conservatives came back at the issue to gradually discontinue the system.

In 2010, western farmers were having so many problems with lice and escapes, they complained:

"Will our message to public opinion be that in addition to the lice and escapes, we will have ranging liberalization? Do we want such a message? "Asked breeder Elin Tveit Sveen from the pulpit. FHL General answered no. A solid majority in 1847 voted to retain the current MTB.
Only 188 would phase out konsesjonsordningen. 33"

As in, opposition to getting rid of the licenses. Why even as recently as 2013, candidates platforms included getting rid of the license system. However, once elected, the farms were having such high scale "environmental problems in the industry." that plans to reform the licenses were ignored.

So, as Sandvik notes (2011): "government opened Solberg to increase the number of licenses and how much salmon they are allowed to produce each concession, total licensed biomass in the existing concessions."

So they actually increased the number of licenses, and did not get rid of the system. In fact, the government offerred up 34 licenses to small farmers, in 2009, but actually let open 64 licences at 8million kroner, except in Finnmark where the price was 3 million NOK. And the government would pocket 485 million kroner. They thought the price was too high for speculation. They were wrong. Speculation had the locals in depressed areas selling the licenses for 30 million, as it was so easy to do so, and no work was required to build a farm and so on.

In fact, those who didn't get in on the bonanza, complained about not getting one, and some were actually awarded licenses, as in the government going around in circles, but always doling out more licenses.

Now we get to the Lisbeth Berg-Hansen story.  Next time. Okay, in the meantime, just Google her and fish farm news, and then read the global stories about the conflict of interest. Many countries would call it corruption. In Canada, she would have had to step down long ago from government, and likely charged. Not so in Norway.



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