Mowi

Background

Mowi ASA is a Norwegian salmon company and the world’s largest producer of farmed Atlantic salmon.1About Us,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/WsXko Formerly known as Marine Harvest, the company rebranded as Mowi in 2018.2Marine Harvest changes name to Mowi,” Aquaculture North America, November 15, 2018. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/QbdM8 3Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

As a vertically integrated company, Mowi produces both aquafeed and salmon. 

Mowi produces one fifth of the world’s farmed salmon at its farms in Norway and Scotland, according to company documents, and produces almost twice as much salmon as the next largest salmon firm in the world, Salmar.4Salmon Farming Industry Handbook 2023,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 5Bent-Are Jensen and John Evans. “New ranking of the world’s top salmon farming companies shows some big shifts,” IntraFish, May 29, 2023. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.  The company is also Scotland’s largest salmon producer.6MOWI-brand sales doubled in value in UK last year,” Fishfarmingexpert, February 9, 2024. Archived February 15, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5ZxtJ

The company harvested its highest-ever volume of farmed salmon in 2023 – over 475,000 metric tons – the equivalent of over 100 million fish, based on the company’s average harvest weight of 4.5 kilograms.7Record high harvest and operating profit for Mowi in 2023,” Fishfarming expert, January 18, 2024. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Y75DI 8Salmon Farming Industry Handbook 2023,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Since 2020, Mowi has produced all of its own salmonid (i.e. salmon and trout) feed for its European salmon farms.9Salmon Farming Industry Handbook 2023,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive .pdf on file at DeSmog. The company produces salmonid feed at plants in Norway and Scotland, since establishing its feed division factory in 2012.10Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

In 2022, Mowi was the world’s fourth largest producer of salmonid feed. The company produced 515,000 tonnes of feed for salmonids, equivalent to more than one-tenth of global salmonid feed production, according to figures provided by Mowi’s 2023 Salmon Farming Industry Handbook.11Salmon Farming Industry Handbook 2023,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Mowi is one of four aquafeed companies (along with Cargill, Biomar, and Skretting) that supply almost all of the aquafeed for Norwegian farmed salmon, and the majority of the world’s aquafeed market.12Aas , T. S., Åsgård, T., & Ytrestøyl, T. “Utilization of feed resources in the production of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in Norway: An update for 2020,” Aquaculture Reports, October 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aqrep.2022.101316. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 13Salmon Farming Industry Handbook 2023,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

In 2022, Mowi earned its highest-ever profits with a turnover of €4.9 billion euros ($5.3 billion USD).14Home,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/09K6A Mowi’s CEO is also the highest paid CEO in the salmon sector, with a base salary of over $770,000 USD, and a total salary (i.e. including bonuses) of over $1.75 million USD in 2022.15John Evans. “Seafood CEO Salary Ranking: Here is what the industry’s top executives were paid in 2022,” IntraFish, May 31, 2023. Archived November 13, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 16Remuneration report For Executive Management 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

According to Mowi’s website, the company has 11,500 employees, operates in 25 countries including Chile and Canada, and sells its products in 70 countries – predominantly in Western Europe and North America.17Home,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/09K6A 18Salmon Farming Industry Handbook 2023,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 19Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. In the UK, Mowi’s Scottish salmon fillets, cold smoked slices and hot smoked fillets are sold in supermarkets including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado.20MOWI-brand sales doubled in value in UK last year,” Fishfarmingexpert, February 9, 2024. Archived February 15, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5ZxtJ

In 2022, Mowi was ranked the “most sustainable” animal protein producer in the world, according to the Coller-FAIRR Protein Producer Index, for the fourth year running.21Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Frederick W. Mowinckel, a descendant of the Mowinckel family that founded Mowi, has become one of the salmon industry’s harshest critics, according to a 2023 book about the salmon industry by Kjetil Ostli and Simen Saetre. “I wish my family did not start Mowi in the late 1960s. When it becomes clear that the business you are in is damaging nature, you must stop, as we did when we sold the company in the 1980s,” Mowinckel has said.22Kjetil Ostli and Simen Saetre (2023). “The New Fish: The Truth about Farmed Salmon and the Consequences We Can No Longer Ignore,” Ventura, California U.S.A. Patagonia Works. 


Read more: Industrial aquaculture key terms & definitions


Controversies

Reliance on wild-caught fish for feed

Salmon in particular are reliant on fish oil to reproduce the nutrition they would attain in their diet in the wild.

Feed for farmed salmon therefore requires the inclusion of fishmeal and fish oil, which is made from wild-caught fish.23Atlantic Salmon,” Seafish. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/XmSc4 As the industry has grown, feed use by the salmon industry increased 429 percent in ten years to 2017.24Naylor, R. L., Hardy, R. W., Buschmann, A. H., et al., “A 20-year retrospective review of global aquaculture,” Nature, 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03308-6 Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Mowi’s salmon feed contains an average of 30 percent fishmeal and fish oil, alongside other ingredients such as vegetable proteins and oils.25Salmon Industry Handbook 2023,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Its reliance on wild-caught nutritious fish has led to criticism of the salmon industry as an inefficient use of marine resources.26Bianchi et al. “Assessing seafood nutritional diversity together with climate impacts informs more comprehensive dietary advice,” Nature Communications Earth and Environment, 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-022-00516-4. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

The fishmeal and fish oil industry has also been criticised for its impact on food security, livelihoods, and pollution; and its impact on wildlife and marine food webs.27Thiao, D. & Bunting, S.W. “Socio-economic and biological impacts of the fish-based feed industry for Sub-Saharan Africa,” FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1236, 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4060/cb7990en. Archived August 8, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 28Shannon, L. & Waller, L. “A Cursory Look at the Fishmeal/Oil Industry from an Ecosystem Perspective,” Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.645023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 29Koehn, L. E. et al., “Trade-offs between forage fish fisheries and their predators in the California Current,” ICES Journal of Marine Science, 2017. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsx072. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Numerous reports have also documented pollution and health problems around fishmeal and fish oil factory sites, as well as the spurring of overfishing, primarily in countries in the Global South, such as Peru, Vietnam and India, and off the coast of West Africa.30Fishing for Catastrophe,” Changing Markets, October 2019. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 31Track the Fish,” Partner Africa, October 2023. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

History of sourcing marine ingredients from West Africa

In sub-Saharan Africa, several NGOs have documented harms caused by the growing fishmeal and fish oil industry, which is centred on Mauritania, with additional factories in Senegal and The Gambia.32A Waste of Fish: Food security under threat from the fishmeal and fish oil industry in West Africa,” Greenpeace, June 2019. Archived August 8, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Harms include pollution, loss of employment for women fish processors and the increased price of small fish, as well as high pressure on overexploited small fish stocks in the Eastern Central Atlantic, off West Africa.33The Human Cost of Overfishing,” Amnesty International, 2023. Archived August 8 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Mowi sourced nearly 30,000 tonnes of fish oil from Mauritania between 2018 and 2022, according to data from its annual reports (see graph below).34Annual reports,” Mowi. Archived January 26, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.  

Mowi’s sustainability policy allows the firm to source feed ingredients from Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs), which are aimed at improving management of stocks. But despite being the site of a FIP since 2017, in Mauritania key fish species that are targeted by the fishmeal and fish oil industry are still overexploited and declining in the region, according to the UN FAO.35Mauritania Small Pelagics – Purse Seine,” FisheryProgress. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/sS8mR 36Report of the Working Group on the Assessment of Small Pelagic Fish off NorthWest Africa,” FAO, July 2019. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Mowi says that it would be “in best case misleading” to link its sourcing in West Africa to declining fish stocks.37The hidden cost of your supermarket salmon,” Financial Times. Archived January 31, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

A 2022 report by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership found the Mauritanian fishery to have “serious management issues”, with Illegal, Underreported and Unreported fishing of sardine (European pilchard) warranting concern.38REDUCTION FISHERIES, 2022 Management and stock status sustainability overview – PART 2,” Sustainable Fisheries Partnership,  April 2023. Archived January 30, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

The FAO recommended in 2016 that fishing pressure on these species be halved.39Report of the Working Group on the Assessment of Small Pelagic Fish off NorthWest Africa,” FAO, July 2019. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Since then, combined fishmeal and fish oil exports have increased from West Africa by more than 50 percent since 2016, while fish oil exports increased by 100 percent, according to data available from Chatham House’s ResourceTrade.Earth database.40Chatham House. “Resource Trade,” Resource Trade, 2020. Archived .xls on file at DeSmog.

In Mowi’s policy on sustainable salmon feed, the company cites sourcing marine ingredients from West Africa (NE Atlantic) as a “low impact reputational risk” – i.e., Mowi believes it is unlikely it will be negatively perceived or lose customers or shareholders as a result of sourcing from the region.41Policy on Sustainable Salmon Feed,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Image Credit: “Policy on sustainable feed,” Mowi, Archived January 29, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Food security claims

Mowi states that producing food from the ocean is “an integral part” of increasing food security, and suggests that with an 8 percent increase in seafood supply by 2030, “mostly from aquaculture”, over 160 million cases of micronutrient deficiencies worldwide could be prevented.42Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Mowi also states that salmon is “expected to become an important solution to providing the world with vitally important proteins while limiting the negative effect on the environment”.43Salmon Farming Industry Handbook 2023,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

In Mowi’s March 2023 report “Leading the Blue Revolution”, the company suggests they “succeed” at creating “value to society” by using their global presence to “mak[e] food from the ocean available worldwide”.44Leading the Blue Revolution,” Mowi. Archived 25 June, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ZvylQ

However, in Mowi’s annual report, next to the claim that it provides 8 million meals a day, a pie chart shows that 98 percent of their sales are made in Europe, North America, and Asia, with just two percent in the rest of the world.45Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Image Credit: “Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

In 2022, the Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients – an industry group comprised of marine ingredients lobby group IFFO, food corporations and feed companies – commissioned nonprofit organisation Partner Africa to write a human rights impact assessment report on the “small pelagic fish value chain” in Mauritania and Senegal.46Our Members,” Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients. Archived January 29, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/7GOok 47Track the Fish,” Partner Africa, October 2023. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.   

The report from Partner Africa found in 2023 that the fishmeal factories had caused food insecurity, undermining the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of food, especially for poorer people, and leading to loss of work for women fish processors.48Track the Fish,” Partner Africa, October 2023. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found in 2022 that the fishmeal and fish oil industry “constitutes a threat to the livelihoods and food and nutrition security of local communities” in sub-Saharan Africa.49Thiao, D. & Bunting, S.W. “Socio-economic and biological impacts of the fish-based feed industry for Sub-Saharan Africa,” FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1236, 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4060/cb7990en. Archived August 8, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Harm linked to salmon escapes

Two of the top three salmon escape events in the last two decades occurred at facilities in Chile and Norway owned by Mowi (then Marine Harvest).50Here are the largest recorded farmed Atlantic salmon escapes in history,” IntraFish. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.  

Escaped fish can harm wild fish populations by competing for resources, spreading infestations like sea lice, and interbreeding with wild fish, resulting in offspring that are not genetically adapted to live outside a farmed environment.51Environmental impacts,” Sustain. Archived June 5, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/kxWQJ 52Here are the largest recorded farmed Atlantic salmon escapes in history,” IntraFish. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 53Farm salmon escape event: levels of farm/wild hybridisation,” Scottish Government, December 15, 2022. Archived January 18, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/G04DD

Between 2011 and 2019, Mowi’s Chilean subsidiary reported over 2 million salmon escapees from more than 50 escape events in the Los Lagos region in Chile.54Juan Carlos Cárdenas Núñez and Brian O’Riordan. “Paradise Lost? The hellish expansion of salmon farming in Chile’s Patagonia could threaten a hundred years of Chile-Norway relations,” Samudra Report No. 81, June 2019. Archived August 15, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Mowi Chile was then responsible for the largest number of escaped salmon in Chilean waters between 2018 and 2022, according to reporting by IntraFish.55John Evans. “Mowi tops list of largest farmed salmon escapes in Chile over past five years,” IntraFish, February 20, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Mowi Chile was fined CLP 5.3 billion ($6.7 million USD) in 2018 by the Chilean government, which said that the company had caused “irreparable environmental damage” by failing to maintain appropriate safety conditions and using “insufficient” equipment following the escape of more than 690,000 fish that year. In response, Mowi Chile disputed the government’s claim, stating that the accident and the escape of fish “did not generate environmental damage” and that it had attempted to recapture the fish.56John Evans. “Mowi hit by record fine for farmed salmon escape in Chile,” IntraFish via Atlantic Salmon Federation, August 28, 2020. Archived June 6, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Dy3bn

In Norway, 54,000 salmon escaped at one facility in 2018, leading to Mowi being fined NOK 3.7million ($450,000 USD).57Mowi fined $450,000 for salmon escape,” IntraFish, May 10, 2021. Archived September 27, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Repeated escape events in Scotland led to Mowi receiving an enforcement notice by government agency Marine Scotland.58Number of escaped fish in Scotland fell 90% last year,” Fishfarming Expert, January 13, 2022. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/nFUwR  Scottish Government. 59Background – Farm salmon escape event: levels of farm/wild hybridisation,” Marine Directorate, December 2022. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/G04DD In response, Mowi stated that it was “disappointed with [its] containment record” and sought permission to build bigger pens which it claimed would be more resilient to storm events.60Number of escaped fish in Scotland fell 90% last year,” Farmingfishexpert, January 13, 2022. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/nFUwR

Salmon welfare, mortality and illness

In its annual report, Mowi states that fish welfare is an “ethical responsibility” and an “integral part of [its] business strategy” that can affect the company’s “productivity and reputation”.61Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. It also states that various diseases can negatively impact its “operations and reputation” and attract “negative media attention and public concerns”.62Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Mowi states that its “mortality objective” is to achieve 99.5 percent monthly salmon survival.63Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. However, food and farming NGO Feedback and the Changing Markets foundation calculated in a 2020 report that Mowi’s salmon mortality rate may be higher than reported in the company’s annual reports, reaching 12 percent in 2019.64The hidden cost of farmed salmon,” Feedback, November 2020. Archived July 6, 2021. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

In response to findings in a similar 2021 report from Just Economics commissioned by Changing Markets, Mowi’s communications director Ola Helge Hjetland told investigative journalism outlet The Ferret that the report was “highly selective” and ignored the benefits of salmon such as “providing healthy food”.65Dead Loss: the high cost of poor salmon farming practices,” Just Economics, February 2021. Archived September 28, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 66Rob Edwards. “£3.3bn: the ‘hidden’ cost of salmon farming in Scotland,” The Ferret, February 11, 2021. Archived November 11, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/v8AZJ 

In 2019, Mowi’s Canadian subsidiary Northern Harvest experienced a “mass mortality event” due to high water temperatures, resulting in the death of millions of fish. The event led to the suspension of the company’s farming licences in Canada, with the fisheries minister for Newfoundland and Labrador stating that the final mortality numbers were “higher than initially reported by the company”.67Jenny Hjul. “Mowi CEO called to Canada after mass mortalities,” Fish Farmer, October 12, 2019. Archived October 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/JqiGb

Northern Harvest director Jamie Gaskill said that the company had been “too focused on clean up efforts” to update the number of reported mortalities and that the company had “learned from this experience”.68Jenny Hjul. “Mowi CEO called to Canada after mass mortalities,” Fish Farmer, October 12, 2019. Archived October 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/JqiGb 

Sea lice infestations are another common cause of death for farmed salmon.69Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar),” Compassion in World Farming. Archived August 29, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

According to the company’s 2022 annual report, in countries in which Mowi operates, five percent of its total sites exceeded national limits for sea lice at any one time. In the Faroe Islands, sea lice counts at Mowi sites were on average 15 percent higher than the national limit at any one time in 2022.70Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Delousing procedures are also dangerous to salmon and can result in mortality. In October 2023, over 5,000 salmon were crushed and killed at a delousing event at a Mowi site in Norway, after which communications director Ola Helge Hjetland explained that “the weather was unfortunately worse than reported”. Hjetland added that “such events are very rare and difficult to foresee.”71Vilde Ferah Molven and Rachel Mutter. “Mowi loses 5,100 salmon, crushed to death in routine procedure,” IntraFish, October 30, 2023. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/xSQQL 

In December 2023, Nova Sea, a company 49 percent owned by Mowi, was forced to cull salmon due to a pancreatic disease outbreak.72Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 73Hanna Gezelius. “Mowi-backed salmon farmer forced to cull infected fish,” IntraFish, December 8, 2023. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Wq40G 

Use of antibiotics in farming and feed

Antibiotics are frequently used in aquaculture and fish farming to prevent disease and control the growth of bacteria that can infect and kill farmed marine and freshwater organisms.74Milva Pepi and Silvano Focardi. “Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Aquaculture and Climate Change: A Challenge for Health in the Mediterranean Area,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, May 26, 2021. Archived January 4, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/xNlJk A 2020 study estimated that aquaculture “carries the highest use intensity [of antibiotics] per kilogram of biomass” between humans, terrestrial food animals, and aquatic food animals.75Daniel Schar, Eili Y. Klein, Ramanan Laxminarayan, Marius Gilbert & Thomas P. Van Boeckel. “Global trends in antimicrobial use in aquaculture,” Scientific Reports Vol 10, December 14, 2020. Archived January 26, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/QA1oU

According to Mowi’s annual reports, the company’s use of antimicrobial medicines across its farms was 91 grams per tonne of salmon produced in 2021 – more than twice that of 2019, with increases in Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Chile.76Integrated Annual Report 2021,” Mowi. Archived January 29, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. In 2022, Mowi used 76 grams of antimicrobials per tonne of salmon.77Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

The use of antibiotics in farming, both on land and in aquatic environments, contributes to antibiotic resistance that affects the effectiveness of antibiotics used in both humans and animals.78Daniel Schar, Eili Y. Klein, Ramanan Laxminarayan, Marius Gilbert & Thomas P. Van Boeckel. “Global trends in antimicrobial use in aquaculture,” Scientific Reports Vol 10, December 14, 2020. Archived January 26, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/QA1oU Antibiotic use in aquatic farming is particularly concerning due to water’s ability to spread resistant bacteria, which can then affect other animals and humans.79Milva Pepi and Silvano Focardi. “Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Aquaculture and Climate Change: A Challenge for Health in the Mediterranean Area,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, May 26, 2021. Archived January 4, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/xNlJk

Relationship and conflict with Indigenous peoples

Mowi has been criticised by indigenous and local communities in Canada for encroaching on indigenous waters, polluting farming practices and negative impacts on wild salmon populations and the wider marine ecosystem in the region.80Kjetil Ostli and Simen Saetre (2023). “The New Fish: The Truth about Farmed Salmon and the Consequences We Can No Longer Ignore,” Ventura, California U.S.A. Patagonia Works. 81Emilee Gilpin. “Salmon showdown: fish farm occupiers summoned to court,” Canada’s National Observer, October 17, 2017. Archived September 24, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.is/7lpUq In Alert Bay, a village on the west coast of Canada, ‘Namgis, Lawit’sis, and Mamalilikulla Nations peoples have protested the operations of Mowi and Cermaq in the area, with members of the ‘Namgis, Lawit’sis, and Mamalilikulla Nations occupying a Marine Harvest site in 2017.82Emilee Gilpin. “The fight to protect wild salmon,” Canada’s National Observer, August 31, 2017. Archived December 25, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.is/XEJJP

Mowi has also been in a partnership with the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais First Nation community for at least 20 years, according to a TikTok posted by Mowi Canada West.83Mowi Canada West,” TikTok, January 18, 2023. Archived January 29, 2024. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. Mowi has employed over 400 Kitasoo/Xai’Xais First Nation people, according to a job listing posted by the community.84Job Posting: Klemtu Sea Site Technician,” Klemtu. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/RJOBI

Greenwashing

In 2021, Mowi paid $1.3 million USD to settle a lawsuit alleging that it had deceptively labelled Ducktrap, one of its smoked salmon brands, as “sustainable” and “eco-friendly”. The suit alleged that Ducktrap was misleading consumers to believe that the salmon was produced in Maine, U.S., whereas in fact the products are farmed outside the U.S.85Rachel Sapin. “Mowi agrees to pay $1.3 million to settle US class action suit alleging deceptive marketing,” IntraFish, March 19, 2021. Archived January 11, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

The lawsuit also alleged Mowi’s products are “sourced from salmon that are farmed using unsustainable and environmentally destructive practices”. As part of the settlement, Mowi was prohibited from using the terms “sustainably sourced”, “all natural”, and “naturally smoked salmon from Maine” on any Ducktrap packaging.86Rachel Sapin. “Mowi agrees to pay $1.3 million to settle US class action suit alleging deceptive marketing,” IntraFish, March 19, 2021. Archived January 11, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Breach of antitrust laws

On January 25, 2024, the European Commission reached a “preliminary view” that six salmon farmers, including Mowi, breached antitrust rules and EU competition rules between 2011 and 2019.87Commission sends Statement of Objections to six companies in farmed Atlantic salmon cartel case,” European Commission, January 25, 2024. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Nl7by 88Salmon farmers contest European Commission’s latest price fixing claim,” Fishfarming Expert, January 26, 2024. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jkH4m The European Commission alleged that the six companies had exchanged commercially sensitive information about “price-setting factors” including ​​sales prices, production volumes and production capacities, and that the “suspected aim of this alleged conduct was to reduce normal uncertainty in the market for spot sales of Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon into the EU”.89Hanna Gezelius. “EU says Norwegian farmed salmon producers breached antitrust rules,” IntraFish, January 25, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. All six companies denied the accusations, and Mowi denied that there had been infringement on competition rules.90Hanna Gezelius. “Fine on six Norwegian salmon companies could reach well over $1 billion if ruling drags on,IntraFish, January 26, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.  

If the six companies are found to have breached antitrust rules, they could be fined up to 10 percent of their annual turnover; however, in practice it is “rare” that the fine will be that high, according to seafood journal IntraFish.91Hanna Gezelius. “Fine on six Norwegian salmon companies could reach well over $1 billion if ruling drags on,IntraFish, January 26, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. The ruling could take several years to reach a final verdict.92Salmon farmers contest European Commission’s latest price fixing claim,” Fishfarming Expert, January 26, 2024. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jkH4m 

In 2022, five salmon companies, including Mowi, agreed to pay $85 million USD to U.S. seafood buyers as a result of salmon price fixing in the U.S. market.93Rachel Sapin. “Salmon farming giants agree to massive settlement in price-fixing lawsuit,” IntraFish, May 25, 2022. Archived October 1, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/mAT8X

Lobbying

Mowi has engaged in lobbying activities in a number of countries in which it has major operations and subsidiaries, including Scotland, Poland, Norway and Canada. 

Scotland

The Ferret reported in 2020 that Scotland’s rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing, was accused of breaching ministerial code by “failing to record 25 meetings with the fish farming industry”, including six meetings with Mowi – tied for the most meetings with Dawnfresh Farming.94Rob Edwards. “Fergus Ewing attacked over 25 meetings with fish farm firms,” The Ferret, June 1, 2020. Archived July 3, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.is/wip/E6HDI

Poland

Mowi’s Polish subsidiary, Mowi Poland, is registered with the European Transparency Register. The company reported less than €10,000 spent on lobbying activities in 2022 and listed its main policy targeted as “Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin”.95Mowi Poland,” European Transparency Register. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/H1ByA The company also employed an intermediary, public affairs firm Publyon, in the 2023 financial year.96Publyon,” European Transparency Register. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/djrTo

Norway 

In 2023, the Norwegian government weakened a tax on the profits of salmon and trout farmers that it had proposed the previous year from 40 to 25 percent.97Norway’s salmon tax cut to 25%,” Fishfarming Expert, May 25, 2023. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/68tvh It was raised “to ensure that local communities along the coast and society as a whole receive a greater share of the value that is created by the fish farming industry”.98Norway lowers planned aquaculture tax in face of industry pressure,” Just Food, March 29, 2023. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/2BUZO 99The Norwegian Government’s proposed resource rent tax on aquaculture,” Government.no, March 28, 2023. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/9KiNW

Mowi and other salmon companies had opposed the tax, with Mowi CEO Ivan Vinheim calling it “totally out of proportion and unsustainable”. Vinheim added that the proposal would be “hugely detrimental to the Norwegian salmon industry and ultimately “lead to the demise of [Norwegian salmon farming]”.100Jason Holland. “Mowi CEO Ivan Vindheim vows to fight “unsustainable” salmon tax proposal,” SeafoodSource, May 11, 2023. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/6qi12

Helge Andre Njastad, a member of Norway’s right-leaning Progress Party (FrP) and chair of the Standing Committee on Local Government and Public Administration, said he had been working with Mowi CEO Ivan Vindheim to “lay out a battle plan against the ground rent tax”.101Matthew Wilcox. “Politicians holding shares in Mowi are among those seeking to sabotage salmon industry tax,” IntraFish, October 6, 2022. Archived October 6, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Njastad and his FrP colleague Sivert Bjornstad both own shares in Mowi.102Matthew Wilcox. “Politicians holding shares in Mowi are among those seeking to sabotage salmon industry tax,” IntraFish, October 6, 2022. Archived October 6, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

After the tax was lowered to 25 percent in May 2023, Mowi announced in August 2023 that it would sue the Norwegian government on the grounds that the tax is “discriminatory”.103Norway’s salmon tax cut to 25%,” Fishfarmingexperts, May 25, 2023. Archived January 30, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/68tvh 104Robert Outram. “Mowi to sue over salmon tax,” Fish farmer magazine, August 23, 2023. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/qW2Is Meanwhile, smaller salmon farmers have warned that Mowi’s court case is “unwise” and could damage the industry.105Bent-Are Jensen & Rachel Mutter. “’Unwise’: Smaller salmon farmers skeptical of Mowi’s lawsuit against the ground rent tax,” IntraFish, September 4, 2023. Archived September 5, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Canada

Between 2022 and 2023, Mowi Canada West lobbied the government of British Columbia, Canada on four occasions. Mowi Canada West lobbied on “changes to aquaculture policy management and regulation, directive[s], or guideline[s]”, as well as to “inform” the Ministry of Forest Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development about the “needs of the aquaculture industry and specifically Mowi Canada West Inc. operations”.106Lobbying Activity Report 2165-19884,” Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists of British Columbia. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/cXbSQ 107Lobbying Activity Report 2165-22370,” Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists of British Columbia. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/SN78d 108Lobbying Activity Report 2165-25386,” Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists of British Columbia. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/U1VXe

In July 2022, Mowi also sought “clarification” and “influence” on how the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) – which were being incorporated into BC law –  would “impact Mowi’s business operations”.109Lobbying Activity Report 2165-20314,” Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists of British Columbia. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/AL9R4

Affiliations

Mowi has 80 subsidiaries, of which 71 are solely owned by Mowi. Most of the subsidiaries are in salmon producing countries Norway, Canada, Chile, UK, Ireland and Iceland.110Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Mowi Markets Norway – the Norway subsidiary of parent company Mowi ASA – is a member of IFFO, a marine ingredients industry group that represents fish farmers, aquafeed producers and fish oil traders, among others.111Our Members,” IFFO. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/grYtz 112About Us,” IFFO. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/xrmQL

MarinTrust – an international certification program for marine ingredients founded by IFFO – has certified Mowi Markets Norway for its production of fishmeal and fish oil.113Mowi Markets Norway AS,” MarinTrust. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Mowi is also a supporter of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which certifies aquaculture companies for operating “responsibly” in alignment with ASC standards.114Partners and Supporters,” ASC. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/0utXt

Marit Solberg, who was COO for Marine Harvest Scotland, Canada, Ireland and the Faroe Islands until 2018, is the sister of Erna Solberg, Norway’s prime minister from 2013-2021.115Marine Harvest executive Solberg steps down,” Fishfarming Expert, October 10, 2018. Archived January 9, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dmkyu Erna Solberg is a supporter of the farmed salmon industry, and stated in March 2023 that her party would consider reversing the Norwegian salmon tax if they win the following election.116Marthe Njåstad. “Former prime minister demands changes to salmon tax proposal,” IntraFish, March 30, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

According to its 2022 annual report, Mowi plays a “significant role” in “key partnerships” including The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers, and five national seafood trade groups: Norway’s Sjørmat Norge, The Irish Farmers’ Association, Canadian Aquaculture, Scottish Salmon, and Chile’s Consejo del Salmon.117Integrated Annual Report 2022,” Mowi. Archived January 9, 2024. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Sjørmat Norge is a member of the European Fishmeal and Fish Oil Producers, a trade group.118Members of European Fishmeal and Fish Oil Producers,” EFFOP. Archived January 29, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/6T549  

Resources

Related Profiles

APCO Worldwide Background APCO has been described as “one of the world's most powerful PR firms.”“Public Relations Firms Database: APCO Worldwide,” O'Dwyers. Archive.is URL: https://arc...
Hugh W. Ellsaesser Credentials Ph.D., Meteorology.“Re: Global warming: It's happening,” Letter to NaturalSCIENCE, January 29, 1998. Archived July 28, 2011. Archive.fo URL: https://arch...
Alfred (Al) Pekarek Credentials Ph.D., University of Wyoming (1974).“Faculty/Staff,” St. Cloud State University. Archived May 28, 2010. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/dA53K ...
Benny Josef Peiser Credentials Ph.D. , University of Frankfurt (1993). Peiser studied political science, English, and sports science. “Benny Peiser,” Wikipedia (German)Entry. Peiser, ...