NORWAY: cheaper salmon farming licenses in the North of Norway

The Norwegian Minister for Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Ms Pedersen, announced early November 2008, 65 additional licenses for salmon farming in Norway.

The cost of the license will be 8 million Norwegian Krona, except for Finnmark in the North of Norway where the price for a license will be 3 million Norwegian Krona.

Ms Pedersen, who is from Finnmark, said that she was very happy to be able to make such announcenement.

Here is the offcial press release in English:


For those understanding Norwegian here is a link to news coverage by NRK, the Norwegian public broadcaster, of the announcement by Ms Pedersen:



CHILE: subsidies for the salmon farming industry

President Bachelet announced on 27/11/2008 a package of measures for the ailing salmon farming industry in Chile.

Among the announced measures Ms Bachelet mentioned financial support for the industry that will take the shape of a new bank guarantee in the framework of the CORFO programme. The government’s sponsored bank guarantee is intended so that salmon farming companies can buy equipment such as recirculation systems, wellboats, waste management but also for to move cages in other sites.

The ceiling of the guarantee will be raised from 50% to 60% of the loans with a maximum of US$ 8 million per loan. The specific guarantee programme should cover a total amount of US$ 120 million. The government expects that the guarantee will generate a total investment of US$ 400 million. According to industry sources a substantial amount of the money will be used to change the production methods so as to eradicate the control the spread of and eventually eradicate the Infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) virus.

Other measures announced by Ms Bachelet concerned additional spending in Research and Development to finance, together with Norway and Canada, activities such as the conclusion of the sequencing of the salmon genoma. Other R&D initiatives include research to assess whether the ISA virus has affected other areas.

Finally Ms Bachelet suggested measures to make sure that “workers in the salmon farming industry do not pay the price as they are not guilty of what is going on in the industry”. Among the suggested measures Ms Bachelet mentioned a system to monitor the level of employment in the industry.

The full text of the speech of Ms Bachelet with the announcement of the measures can be found here:



WTO: Director General Pascal Lamy on Fisheries Subsidies (2)

In a previous post I quoted a recent speech given by Pascal Lamy at Stanford University on 27 October 2008.

Searching for "fisheries subsidies" in the "blogosphere" I found that Mr Lamy gave a lecture at the University of California, Berkeley on 29 October 2008 during which he refererred three times to "fisheries subsidies". Here are the relevant pargraphs:

"So, as we wait for the right political signals, in Geneva we continue to work towards resolution of the Special Safeguard Mechanism issue and others, including the question of high levels of trade-distorting subsidies extended to cotton farmers. We continue our work as well in areas like services, reducing fisheries subsidies, anti-dumping and specific development measures."

"But there is another reason as well. It is clear to many of us that current trade rules are inadequate for the world of today. Many see it as inequitable that rules on our books permit rich countries to pour billions of dollars into agriculture programmes which have impoverished developing country farmers over the last three decades. Many see it as unjust that we preside over a tariff system in which rich countries hit exports from poor countries with duties three or four times higher than those applied to exports from rich countries. Rules on the movement of goods through customs which date back to a time before bar coding and laptops seem antiquated. Failing to help Africa reform customs policies which require 40 documents and 30 days to clear shipments is difficult to explain. But failing to address fisheries subsidies which contribute to serious depletion of fish stocks seems downright irresponsible."

"Governments will also turn to regional or bilateral agreements rather than continue along the admittedly more difficult multilateral path. Such agreements have their place. I, myself, have negotiated a few of them in a previous life. But they are no substitute for a Doha deal. There are 430 regional and bilateral agreements in place today, 300 of these have been struck in the last eight years, and I can assure you that not one of them addresses the problem of excessive, trade-distorting farm subsidies. Not one of them will reduce the fisheries subsidies that threaten to empty our oceans. None will lead to the creation of global rules to facilitate trade or open globally trade in services."

The last paragraph brings a new light on the distintive character of WTO disciplines, i.e. they are multilateral. Mr Lamy is absolutely right in saying that no bilateral deal will go as far as prohibiting fisheries subsidies.

The full text of the lecture can be found at the WTO wbsite:


Here is also a link to a blog quoting Mr Lamy:



US: catfish in the federal school lunch programs. Is this a subsidy?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it will be buying up to US$ 5 million of catfish to be donated to child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programme through the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).

It seems that it must be "domestic farm-raised catfish". According to some of the articles appearing in the U.S. press domestic producers "say could give the industry more leverage in its fight against Asian imports."

Here is the link to the press release by USDA:


Here is a link to an article on this subject:



EU: Green Budget Europe

On 25 September 25th 2008 a Conference took place in Brussels to launch the "Green Budget Europe" iniitative. This initiave fits in the context of the so called Environmental Fiscal Reform.
The organiser was the German NGO Forum Ökologisch-Soziale Marktwirtschaft e.V. (FOES).

With the aformentioned conference FOES wants to bring the existing "Green Budget Germany" initiative to the European level. Within this platform there is a futher emphasis on Market Based Instruments (MBIs).

One of the workshops was devoted to "Agriculture, Fisheries and Biodiversity – Environmental Harmful Subsidies".

Fisheries subsidies were discussed under this heading by two speakers: Anja von Moltke (UNEP, Geneva) and Markus Knigge (Pew Environment Group, Europe). Their presentations can be found here:



U.S.: fisheries subsidies and advice to President Obama on Fisheries Policy

An American NGO, the Environmental Defense Fund, has posted on its website a report titled "Oceans of Abundance". To this report have contributed a number of prominent U.S. policy makers and fisheries experts.

The NGO considers that the President elect Obama and the U.S. Congress "have a unique opportunity to restore America's abundant oceans, which offer a sustainable source of food, jobs and diverse wildlife."

At the core of the proposed actions to restore America's abundant oceans one finds the need for the implementation of what the authors of the report have called "catch shares", i.e. a share "based on a percentage of total allowable catch or area, can be held byindividuals, cooperatives, or communities." (page 6 of the aformentioned report).

What I missed in the report is a recommendation to the new Administration along the lines of the current U.S. position (as set-out by the Bush Administration at the WTO) for a broad based ban of subsidies to the fishing industry. Therefore a logic recommendation to Mr Obama would have been to legislate in the U.S. for the widest possible ban on fisheries subsidies.

In actual fact the only reference I found to fisheries subsidies was the following:

"The Obama Administration can help provide American leadership, expertise, and resources to solve this global problem. By helping other nations to transition to catch shares, including their use in conjunction with marine protected areas, we can increase food security, alleviate poverty, reduce fishing subsidies that distort markets, and sustain a supply of healthy seafood to the United States and the globe. The fisheries of many countries are poised for this change. "

Here is the link to the NGO wesite where the report can be found:



NORWAY: compensation grants to fishermen for seismic exploration of oil

Norway, an oil and gas rich country, continues its search for new fields under the sea-bed.

The search is carried out under the supervision of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and the technique used is the so called "seismic testing". This is an exploration technique that targets oil and gas sediments under the sea bottom. To find these sediments, ships tow a high-intensity air guns that fires deep into the ocean. The blasts from seismic air gun can reach volumes of 260 decibels and are audible as far as 10 kilometers away.

From time to time Norwegian fishermen complain that these exploration trips are to the detriment of fishing as fish can be "scared" by the powerful blasts. These days there has been strong protest in the Nordland region of Norway against seismic exploration of sea areas around the aforementioned region. A number of economic operators (fishermen, buyers of fish) have submitted compensation claims for alleged economic losses due to seismic exploration. It seems that the claims run in the millions of Norwegian Krona.

It is the Fisheries Directorate that deals with the claims for compensation and that is charged with the payments.

An interesting detail is that whale hunters can also obtain compensation.

NORWAY: grants to vessels from the "NOx Fund"

As I mentioned in a previous post, Norwegian vessel owners, instead of paying a tax on NOx emissions, are now contributing to the so called NOx Fund. In turn, this Fund pays vessel owners for the "investments" made to reduce NOx emissions.

http://www.fiskeribladetfiskaren.no/, a fisheries web site from Norway, has published information on the payments made to a number of vessels for investments in NOx reduction.

For ten vessels, a total of 41.806.989 Norwegian Krona (around USD 6 Million) was granted this week by the Fund.

The link to the Norwegian website is here:


WTO: Director General Pascal Lamy on Fisheries Subsidies

In a recent speech titled "The stabilizing influence of a rules-based trading system" given by Pascal Lamy at Stanford University on 27 October 2008 he said :

[...] We all agree that rules written nearly 15 years ago do not fit the world of today. Rules which permit rich countries to pour billions of dollars into agriculture programmes which impoverish developing country farmers are seen by many as inequitable. Many find it unjust to have a WTO tariff system where tariffs in rich countries are three or four times higher on exports from the poorest countries than they are on products from other rich countries. Rules on the movement of goods through customs, which date back to a time before bar coding and laptops, seem antiquated. Failing to help Africa reform customs policies which require 40 documents and 30 days to clear shipments is difficult to explain. But failing to address fisheries subsidies, which contribute to serious depletion of fish stocks, seems downright irresponsible [emphasis added]. [...]

Because of the current architecture of the WTO DDA negotiations, fisheries subsidies need to be addressed concurrently with other "Rules" issues, namely: General Subsidy disciplines and Anti-dumping. It is the latter issue that has proven to be elusive in terms of reaching consensus on changes to existing anti-dumping rules and "zeroing" is not strange to this situation. So, i was not surprised that Mr Lamy did not mention the word "anti-dumping" in its speech directed at a U.S. audience.

The full text of the speech can be found at the WTO's website here: