Denmark halts fish farming development over environment concerns

Denmark said Monday it will stop development of its fish farming industry at sea, which has widely been criticised for its harmful impact on the environment.

Denmark halts fish farming development over environment concerns
File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

“Denmark has reached the limit of the number of fish that can be raised at sea without endangering the environment… We must be a green pioneer, including fish farming,” Environment Minister Lea Wermelin said in a statement.

The move means that the government will put an end to developing new aquaculture projects in the country but its 19 existing fish farms will not be affected.

The measure has been hailed by environmental groups who deplore the pollution caused by aquaculture production.

But fish farming officials have slammed the move, which they say will harm the flourishing industry.

“It's a serious setback,” said the head of the Danish aquaculture federation, Brian Thomsen.

“We thought about establishing offshore farms but now it's impossible.”

The federation estimates annual exports are worth 1.5 billion kroner (over 200 million euros).

Denmark has been aqua farming since the nineteenth century, but it is underdeveloped in Europe because Asia provides more than 90 percent of global production in tonnes.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says aquaculture is probably the fastest growing food-producing sector, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the world's food fish.

READ ALSO: Opinion: Overfishing in Danish seas is bad for the environment and the economy

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘We still have a chance’: Danish minister’s relief after Glasgow climate deal

Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen has expressed relief that a meaningful climate change deal was struck in Glasgow last night, after a last minute move by India and China nearly knocked it off course.

'We still have a chance': Danish minister's relief after Glasgow climate deal
Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen speaks at the announcement of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance in Glasgow on Tuesday. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

“For the first time ever, coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been mentioned. I’m very, very happy about that,” he told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper. “But I am also very disappointed that the stronger formulations were removed at the last minute.” 

Late on Saturday, the world’s countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, after negotiations dragged on while governments haggled over phasing out coal. 

Denmark is one of the countries leading the phase out of fossil fuels, formally launching the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) with ten other countries and states at the Glasgow summit on Tuesday, announcing an end to oil exploration last December, and committing to phase out coal by 2030 back in 2017. 

Jørgensen conceded that the deal struck on Saturday was nowhere near far-reaching enough to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C, which scientists have estimated is critical to limiting the impacts of climate change, but he said the decision to hold another summit in Egypt next year meant that this goal could still be reached. 

“The big, good news is that we could have closed the door today. If we had followed the rules, we would only have had to update the climate plans in 2025, and the updates would only apply from 2030,” he said, adding that this would be too late. “Now we can fight on as early as next year. This is very rare under the auspices of the UN.” 

Limiting temperature rises to 1.5C was still possible, he said. 

“We have a chance. The framework is in place to make the right decisions. There was a risk that that framework would not be there.” 

Jørgensen said that he had come close to tears when India launched a last-minute bid to water down the language when it came to coal, putting the entire deal at risk. 

“It was all really about to fall to the ground,” he said. “The assessment was that either the Indians got that concession or there was no agreement.” 

Sebastian Mernild, a climate researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, said he was disappointed by the lack of binding targets and global deadlines in the plan, but said it was nonetheless “a step in the right direction”, particularly the requirement that signatories to the Paris Agreement must tighten their 2030 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2022.

“It’s good that this thing with fossil fuels has got in,” he added. “It’s a pity that you don’t have to phase them out, but only reduce.”

He said the test of whether the Glasgow meeting is a success or failure would not come until the various aspects of the plan are approved and implemented by members states.