Salmon again hot potato in Norwegian-Russian relations

Norwegian fish contains too high level of parasites, Russian authorities claim

Russian food safety authorities threaten to ban imports of Norwegian fresh fish arguing that they have found parasites in abundance.


The Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) maintains that the Norwegian veterinary control is insufficient and that the fish contains too high levels of parasites, a representative of the food safety watchdog underlined in an interview with

The Russian officials now stress that the lucrative Norwegian fish export will be banned unless standards are heightened, reports.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian salmon industry is unsure about the position of the Russians. Commenting on the Russian demands, a regional representative of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority says that “Norway exports salmon to 120 different markets, and it is only the Russian market which presents this kind of characteristics of the Norwegian fish”.

According to Russian Rosselkhoznadzor, laboratory tests made in April this year show that parties of the Norwegian fish imports contained living roundworm larves. The authority at the same time admits that its veterinary control regime is stricter than the one applied in Norway and the EU.

The two countries now agree that consultations on fish testing methods will be held in late September and that the Norwegian side subsequently will elaborate a document which outlines a list of measures needed to be taken, reports.

The Russian reactions on the Norwegian fish quality come after Russian inspectors the first days of July visited a number of  Norwegian fish export companies.

Over the last years, fish export to Russia has boomed and the Russian market is now the biggest for Norwegian seafood. So far in 2013, the Norwegian exports to Russia has declined year-on-year within practically all fish products, among them salmon (19%), trout (10%), herring (32%) and capelin (46%). However, the value of the Norwegian export  remains significant.  In the first five months of 2013, the export was worth €307 million, a five  percent decrease from the same period in 2012, figures from the Norwegian Seafood Council show.

The new Russian boicot 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.