September 2, 2016 / 9:42 AM / 2 years ago

Top Norway salmon farmers reject fisheries minister's growth initiative

OSLO, Sept 2 (Reuters) -

* Norway’s fisheries minister Per Sandberg told Reuters that the country’s leading salmon farmers had not applied for permission to increase the maximum allowed volume of fish (biomass) in the sea by up to 5 pct

* The ministry had earlier invited companies to apply for such an increase

* The cost had been set at 1.5 million Norwegian crowns ($180,085.00) per permit, which each hold between 780 and 945 tonnes of salmon

* The deadline for applying was September 1

* The trial period for allowing more biomass (salmon) in the sea will last until end of December 2019

* Sandberg said in an e-mail that he believed this model would be a good way to facilitate growth in output, and said smaller companies has signed up for the trial period

* Sandberg expressed surprise that big salmon companies found the proposed model too expensive

* He added that payments for the permits would go largely to the municipalities and “I think it is right that they get something in return for the job they are doing to facilitate farming”

* Sandberg said high salmon prices over a long time, and the associated danger that the industry could be pricing itself out of some markets unless production increases, was a key reason for the government’s offer of growth

* Salmon prices hit a record in July above 80 crowns per kilo compared to an average export price of 42.87 crowns in 2015. They have since fallen back to 55-56 crowns

* Production volumes in Norway are estimated to drop 3-5 percent in 2016 from 2015

* A trial period, with increased maximum allowed biomass, was among the measures meant to increase production by up to 5 percent in the coming years

* Norwegian salmon production, which represents more than 50 percent of global supply, is estimated at around 1.1 million tonnes for 2016

* Leading producers include Marine Harvest, Salmar , Leroy Seafood, Grieg Seafood and Norway Royal Salmon, non of which applied for the proposed permit

* Two of them, Grieg and Norway Royal Salmon, told Reuters that the price of the increase was too high and the trial period too short ($1 = 8.3294 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting By Ole Petter Skonnord, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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