Ownership of fish farms

Norway has repealed certain ownership restrictions in its fish farming industry following the Authority's handling of a complaint concerning the matter

Fish farm (Photo by: Willy Haraldsen / Samfoto)In the summer of 2012, the Authority issued a letter of formal notice to Norway for maintaining in force ownership restrictions in the fish farming industry. According to the contested Norwegian law, acquisitions leading to majority control over more than 15% of the total number of salmon and trout farming concessions were subject to prior authorisation, while acquisitions leading to majority ownership of more than 25% of the concessions were entirely prohibited. The Authority's position was that the rules constituted a restriction to the freedom of establishment.

The Authority found that the objectives of the Norwegian fish farming rules could be reached by other less restrictive means. In this context, the Authority observed that Norway could, for instance, introduce a prior authorisation scheme for concessions above certain limits. However, since authorisation schemes are, by their very nature, restrictive to the exercise of fundamental freedoms, such an authorisation scheme would have to be transparent and objective, so that they would not be used arbitrarily.

The case was discussed in various meetings between the Authority and the Norwegian Government. In December 2012, the Norwegian Government informed the Authority that it was in the process of amending the Fish Farming Regulation and establishing new, clear and predictable terms and conditions.

In July 2013, Norway removed the contested rules on ownership restrictions in the fish farming industry by adopting a new regulation on the distribution and control of production capacity in permits for salmon, trout and rainbow trout marine fishing.

After having examined the new and much less restrictive regulation, in November 2013, the Authority decided to close the case.

 

Documents in the case

 




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