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Photo:  The Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.Photo: The Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries

Legal framework for aquaculture operations

01.01.2014 // This article gives an overview of the legal framework for aquaculture operations, inclduing the Aquaculture Act,the Food Act and the The Animal Welfare Act.

The Aquaculture Act

The main purpose of the Act is to promote the profitability and competitiveness of the aquaculture industry within the framework of sustainable development. The Aquaculture Act establishes the framework for the aquaculture industry’s future through responsible development with due regard for the environment and effective use of the coastal zone.

To engage in aquaculture activities requires a licence. This means that aquaculture and sea ranching activities without a licence are illegal.

Compared to previous legislation, the authorities are now focusing more on how the enterprise is run rather than ownership.

The Act has a strong environmental profile. At the same time, the relationship between the use of the coastal zone and different user interests is taken into account. The environmental and land use provisions is intended to contribute to a good coexistence between the aquaculture industry and other public interests. 

The Aquaculture Act introduced the right to transfer and mortgage licences. These rights are consequences of the development of the industry with companies who are increasingly professional.  The right to transfer and mortgage licences has made the industry more adaptable to meet future challenges.

The Food Act

The Food Act is intended to ensure food safety and promote health benefits, quality and consumer considerations throughout the entire aquaculture production chain. The Act applies to all aspects of aquaculture production and processing, as well as distribution of intermediate inputs at the primary food production level. The act also includes general requirements and obligations to ensure compliance with the purpose of the Act. 

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is responsible for controlling that aquaculture companies are operating in compliance with the Act. The Authority is empowered to take any decisions and measures deemed necessary to ensure implementation of the provisions laid down in or pursuant to this Act.

The Animal Welfare Act

In aquaculture production, the welfare of the animals is important both ethically and for ensuring high-quality products. The Animal Welfare Act sets out general rules for animal husbandry. Animals shall be treated well and not be subject to unnecessary stress and strain. Further, an animal may only be kept for as long as it is deemed proper to the animal’s welfare. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority determines whether an application for a licence is in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. The purpose of the Act is to promote animal welfare and respect for animals.

Regulations governing the allocation of aquaculture licences and sites

The regulations governing the allocation of aquaculture licences and sites for salmon, trout, and rainbow trout include provisions related to licence requirements and requirements for the establishment of sites.

Aquaculture regulations for species other than salmon, trout and rainbow trout specify the requirements for the allocation and localisation of aquaculture licences.

Regulations governing aquaculture operations

The regulations determine how aquaculture operations should be run, including preventing escapes of farmed fish and ensuring fish health and the health of other aquaculture animals. Ensuring good fish health includes measures to prevent infective and non-infective diseases.


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