EU probes alleged fish-dumping

European Union officials are investigating claims that Norway has side-stepped rules governing salmon exports to the EU. Danish customs officials are blowing the whistle after raids on Norwegian trucks.

The raids on Norwegian trucks loaded with salmon have turned up duplicate sets of billing documents. One set allegedly reflects the EU's minimum price for salmon imports from Norway, while the other reflected the price actually charged the customer. The latter was invariably lower than the established minimum.

The Danish authorities contend the practice indicates Norwegian salmon producers are swindling the market for as much as NOK 320 million by "dumping" their fish in Europe.

The charges can have serious consequences for an important market for Norwegian salmon sales. Norway last year exported 180,000 tons of salmon to the EU countries, for a value of some NOK 5 billion.

Exporters found to have engaged in salmon-dumping risk being hit with sanctions or virtual bans on the sale of their fish within the EU. Repeat offenders may be hit with punitive tariffs that would effectively exclude them from the business.

Evidence against the Norwegian salmon exporters has been collected since June of last year. One customs inspector told newspaper Aftenposten that double sets of invoices have been found at least 20 times.

The current minimum price for fresh salmon is NOK 26 per kilo, while some has allegedly been sold for just NOK 17 per kilo. No suspect firms were identified by the Danes.