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Norway salmon hit hard by Russia sanctions

(OSLO) - Norwegian Salmon producers, including the world leader Marine Harvest, felt the brunt of sanctions imposed by Russia on agricultural goods from Europe on Thursday as their share prices plummeted on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Russia has been Norway's biggest export market for fishery products in recent years but Moscow announced on Thursday that they would be placed on the sanctions list, effective immediately.

"It's a challenging situation for Norwegian seafood exporters," said Terje Martinussen, director of the industry group Norwegian Seafood Council.

"Nonetheless, the Norwegian seafood sector has a long experience with Russian trade barriers so it's prepared for these kinds of situations."

By late afternoon shares in the world's biggest salmon producer Marine Harvest had fallen by 8.48 percent.

Other major producers including Salmar (-8.68 percent), Leroey Seafood (-6,99 percent) and Austevoll Seafood (-7,88 percent) also fared badly, a day after Russia announced year-long sanctions against the European Union, Norway, the US, Canada and Australia in retaliation against Western sanctions linked to the Ukraine conflict.

Norway's fishing industry was seeking to limit the impact and divert exports to other markets.

"Products that are usually exported to Russia can be freely sold in some of our other 130 markets," said Martinussen.

According to the Norwegian Seafood Council, the Nordic nation exported 295,000 tonnes of fish to Russia worth 6.5 billion kroner (775 million euros, $1 billion) last year.

Salmon and trout accounted for 81 percent of the sales, followed by herring and mackerel.

Although Russia was replaced by Poland this year as Norway's largest export market for fish, it still accounted for 3.2 billion kroner in sales so far this year.

Norway is not a member of the European Union but the Nordic nation announced it would join the 28-country bloc in imposing sanctions on Russia and has since been hit by the Russian counter measures targeting fish, beef, porc, poultry, dairy products, vegetables and fruit.

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