Lawyer Trond Hatland. A district court judgement is just 'a step on the way to a correct and final decision', he said.
Lawyer Trond Hatland. A district court judgement is just "a step on the way to a correct and final decision", he said.

Salmon farmers may appeal traffic light trial defeat

Twenty-five salmonid farming companies who lost a court challenge against the Norwegian government’s “traffic light” designation for the area they farm in are considering an appeal.

Published

The farmers in production area 4 (PO4), one of 13 areas covered by the traffic light system, had put forward various arguments against PO4 being given a red traffic light. The red-light designation means they must reduce biomass by 6% to protect wild salmon from sea lice emanating from salmon cages.

The farmers involved include Mowi and Lerøy, co-owner of Scottish Sea Farms, along with smaller players.

‘A first sorting’

Lawyer Trond Hatland represented the farmers in the two-week case in Sogn og Fjordane District Court.

He told Fish Farming Expert’s Norwegian sister site, Kyst.no, that experience has shown that it is necessary to carry out legal proceedings in several instances in such cases.

“A district court judgement constitutes a first sorting of the issues the case raises and is thus a step on the way to a correct and final decision,” he said.

Hatland said that lawyers will now consider the ruling in detail, together with the farmers, with a view to a possible appeal.

The farmers in PO4 lost on all points in the case they had raised against the state to have the traffic light decision reversed. The state was awarded costs of almost NOK 1.8 million (£150,000) that must be paid by the fish farmers.

Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen: 'The verdict is comprehensive.'
Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen: "The verdict is comprehensive."

‘A correct conclusion’

Fisheries and seafood minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen told Kyst.no that he is happy that the state has won the case in full and been awarded legal costs.

“We believe it is a correct conclusion. The verdict is comprehensive, and we will, together with the Attorney General, use time in the future to familiarise ourselves carefully with the premises,” said Ingebrigtsen.

The outcome of the case was also welcomed by Sissel Rogne, managing director of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR) which provides much of the knowledge base for the traffic light system.

Witnesses

Several researchers from the department were witnesses in the case, where the traffic light system was the subject of much criticism from the plaintiffs.

“I am very happy with this outcome,” said Rogne. She added that the ruling is in principle important for the IMR as a research and management support institute.

“It is not the judicial system that will test our knowledge and our research-based advice. The natural sciences are handled through internationally recognised academic methods - which ensure thorough and critical quality assurance,” she said.