Only 29 companies keep the right to export their products to Russia, and they will experience toughened quality control.
Russian food safety authorities believe that Norway’s system for quality control is too lax, which has allowed for low-quality fish to enter the Russian market. Russian authorities said they have found salmonella and E. coli bacteria in Norwegian fish.
The import restrictions are imposed on a long list of fish including herring, cod, haddock and capelin, but do not affect salmon and trout, which Russia imports in large quantities.
The first threats about a possible ban came from The Federal Service for Veterinarian and Vegetation Sanitary Supervision (Rosselkhoznadzor) in December, as BarentsObserver reported.
Russia is the largest import market for fish from Norway. In 2013 the import amounted to €691 million.
The ban is highly unfortunate, Norway’s Minister of Fisheries Elisabeth Aspaker says to Nordlys. “It gives Norwegian sea food producers poor predictability when Russian veterinarian authorities almost overnight impose new rules that hinder export of Norwegian fish”.
Norwegian food authorities aren’t concerned other countries will take up the boycott. “We are a super power when it comes to supplying the world with seafood, and we seldom meet challenges when it comes to safety”, Egil Sundheim from the food safety authority Mattilsynet says. “Norwegian seafood has a strong reputation in the world”.
The new Russian boycott threats to the Norwegian fish industry are far from the first. In 2005-2006, the country introduced a full import ban on Norwegian frozen fish and a number of salmon export companies have later been blocked from entering the Russian market. Several experts believe the Russian fish import market is strictly controlled by state-supported cartels which efficiently block access of independent structures.