FISH farmers UK

Tide has turned in favour of fish farmers FISH farmers were told “the tide has turned” at an international conference and exhibition in Trondheim this week – with total profits for the Norwegian fish farming industry last year backing up that forecast.

Norwegian industry profit for 2004 was announced by Norway’s Fisheries’ Directorate as 550 million kroner ( about £478M) at Aqua Nor, the international fish farming exhibition. Figures released also showed an increase of 11.8 per cent in the average sales price of salmon and a 12.4 per cent rise in rainbow trout prices during the year.

The “tide has turned”, at least financially, was the message from Peter Gullestad, the president of the Nor-Fishing Association, in his opening speech: “We have all been looking at too many figures on the wrong side, but I can now say that our industry is once again making money.”

Equally upbeat was Svein Ludvigsen, Norway’s minister of fisheries, who said that the continuing global increase in the demand for seafood was the best possible basis for the industry to address its future growth potential.

Inevitably, Ludvigsen also took the opportunity to comment on current trade and tariff issues between the European Union and Norway.

He argued that governments around the world would serve their producers better if they created a more favourable business climate for aquaculture instead of spending so much time on what he termed “trade defence”.

Ludvigsen added: “We are all involved in a highly competitive industry.

“However, while the competition will be hard we also need to make sure that we co-operative wherever possible.”

In that context, he said, fish farmers must tailor production to meet consumer requirements, produce high-quality food within a climate of equally high animal welfare and environmental standards, and try harder to prevent diseases.

During his tour of the exhibition, the minister was given a practical illustration of how one Scottish company was contributing at global level.

Exhibitor Alan Stewart of Landcatch Ltd, the Argyll-based specialist breeding company, pointed out that his company was already making excellent progress in the development of salmon eggs and smolts with an in-built resistance to two of the industry’s major diseases, IPN and Pancreas Disease.

Stewart said: “We’ve been running an advanced stock breeding programme, since 1996 in Scotland and since 1998 in Chile, and agree that the global industry has great potential. But that will only be achieved through the use of high-tech programmes of the type we’ve spent ten years developing.”

• THE UK agricultural industry’s total borrowing has risen by £374 million in the past 12 months, according to the latest Bank of England figures this week.

At the end of June 2005 farming’s collective bank overdraft debt stood at £8.656 billion compared with £8.282bn for the same period in 2004, an increase of 4.52 per cent.

The figure also represents an increase of £197m, or 2.33 per cent, since March 2005.

• The Scottish Rural Housing Information Group has been established to raise awareness of specifically rural housing issues and solutions.

Led by the Scottish Rural Business and Property Association (SRPBA) and the Rural Housing Service, its intention is to act as a forum for all those connected with rural housing.

It next meeting will be on 16 August at the Gateway Centre, Balloch, hosted by Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Authority
ALAN DUNCAN

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