The Norwegian government unveiled a new aquaculture strategy on July 6 that aims, among other things, to simplify the country's entire licensing system.

The new strategy, known as "A Sea of Opportunities," provides a blueprint for the Norwegian aquaculture industry for the next 10-15 years.

The main message delivered through the plan is that growth in the sector will come but that it must take place sustainably.

Norway plans to produce 5 million metric tons of salmon and trout per year by 2050, almost five times the current volume.

In the plan, the government intends to establish a committee to review the licensing regulations for the entire aquaculture industry, and explore how they can be adapted to meet both current and future challenges.

Today's system is a patchwork of various historical schemes that can be simplified and harmonized under the new strategy, according to the plan. The new management strategy will also assess how management of the sector can become more efficient and coordinated.

The government also plans to further develop the traffic light system and review the use of special permits. Under Norway's traffic light system, companies that meet certain sea lice thresholds are allowed to produce more fish.

In March, a group of 25 salmon farmers from western Norway demanding compensation from the government for loss of production volumes caused by the traffic light system had their case thrown out of court.

The size of farming permits is currently based on the so-called maximum allowable biomass (MTB), which states how many tons of salmon can be left in the cages at any given time.

"In such a review, it will also be natural to assess whether MTB, which currently delimits permits, is still the most suitable tool for precisely this," the strategy states.

There will also be a review of the framework conditions for land-based aquaculture, in particular with a view to strengthen biosafety and environmental measures. Additionally the government will continue the work of facilitating offshore aquaculture.

Other aspects of the plan include:

  • assessing whether the current site structure can be changed to reduce issues of infections between sites;
  • facilitating suitable recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) technology and revising regulations for environmentally friendly inland farming;
  • facilitating the development of new feed raw materials for the aquaculture industry;
  • work for customs conditions in the export markets that make Norwegian farmed fish competitive. Zero tariffs for farmed fish is an objective in all new free trade agreements; and
  • continue the focus on aquaculture research, including research on new species and fish feed/new feed ingredients

The complete list of the government's plans can be found in the full aquaculture strategy which was published on July 6.

"We want more growth. How much and how quickly depends on fish welfare, biology and access to feed raw materials," Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, Norway's fisheries minister, told IntraFish.

"History shows that the industry has managed to find solutions along the way, something we have great faith in."