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Flap over fish farming

Norway's salmon producers are unhappy that the state has doled out authorization for 50 new fish farms along the coast.

Norway's salmon producers are unhappy that the state has doled out authorization for 50 new fish farms along the coast. The industry, faced with low salmon prices, doesn't want to see any further expansion at all.

"We don't need any new concessions at a time when the whole business is going down the toilet," said a blunt Magne Bjornerem of industry trade association FHL Havbruk in Aalesund.

Environmental groups also are opposed to establishment of more salmon-raising facilities along the coast, while banks hesitate to finance such ventures when the industry is posting huge losses.

Industry players want the state to put a moratorium on new fish farm concessions. "We want zero growth in next year's quotas and limited growth later because of the serious situation the industry is in," said Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, also of FHL Havbruk, at the trade association's annual meeting on Tuesday.

"Nobody wants another 70,000 tons of salmon on the market now," agreed Ola Braanaas of Firda Management, while another at the meeting called the new government concessions "a slap in the face" to hard-pressed Norwegian aquaculture.

"Almost all operators are in the red," noted Paul Birger Torgnes of Fjord Seafood. "Doling out more concessions isn't the best medicine."

Janne Johnsen of the state fisheries agency defended the granting of new concessions, noting that they were part of state budget concessions between Norway's coalition government and the Progress Party last year.

Many concession applicants, however, have since withdrawn because of hard times in the business.

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