Is The Norwegian Constitution’s Article 112 - wild salmon’s last chance?

 

January 11, 2017

Salmon with severe injuries from sealice Photo:  John Øystein Berg

Salmon with severe injuries from sealice

Photo:  John Øystein Berg

Over the years SalmonCamera has been taken aback by a clear discrepancy between the wording in the constitution’s environmental provision, article 112, and the fact that the authorities allow intervention and industrial activity which reduces salmon and sea trout stocks to critically low levels.
Therefore we funded legal research with regard to the implementation of article 112 in cases that deal with the relationship between wild salmon and aquaculture, an industry that has proven to damage the salmon fishery. How can article 112 support citizens in their fight for salmon, sea trout and char so that these natural resources are protected as a resource for posterity?

 

On January 8th the Fridtjof Nansens Institute  (FNI) published a legal assessment of Article 112 of the Constitution and its relationship to the fish farming industry and wild salmon. The work on the report was implemented after SalmonCamera drew up a contract with FNI funding their research on the issue. What rights are provided in Article 112 of the Constitution?  

SalmonCamera points out that no guidelines were established for this pioneering legal work although the organisation was responsible for its financing. The opinion can be read here in its entirety (in Norwegian). 

In addition to the conclusions mentioned below, SalmonCamera has prepared a selection of key conclusions from the FNI report that can be read here. For us, it has been important to get a legal opinion which can determine whether or not our perception is correct, that the Government is out of step with the Constitution on the question of wild salmon.  SalmonCamera will in the future work hard so that wild salmon and sea trout achieve better legal protection, fully in line with the Constitution's intention as outlined in its preparatory work, and in light of the guidance set out in the Nature Diversity Act and that follows from Norway’s international responsibility for the conservation of wild salmon. 

 

 

In summary, this means that the Government has not implemented all the measures that are necessary to carry out the principles as stated in Article 112. The citizens are not given the rights as specified in the first and second paragraph. On this basis, it is concluded that there is significant room to invoke Article 112 as an independent legal basis in matters related to the fish farming industry's impacts on wild salmon." 

 

 

On this basis, there is in my judgment a clear need to investigate whether the reform that is proposed in the Government’s White Paper no. 16 (2015-2016) will meet the requirements of the first paragraph of Article 112 not to threaten the salmon’s productive capacity and diversity. There will also be a reason to look more closely at the White Paper and determine if meets the citizen's right to knowledge under the second paragraph of Article 112. It will be particularly applicable to use article 112 as the legal basis in connection with decisions on new or expanded access to the fish farming business or to identify the failure of the authorities to intervene against existing fish farming operations where they threaten wild populations.“ 

 

Article 112 of the Constitution can become relevant as an independent legal basis in three slightly different situations:
 

 

If conditions for wild salmon is such that wild salmon’s production capability is in danger of being greatly reduced or disappearing, If conditions for wild salmon are such that its diversity is in danger of being greatly reduced or disappearing, and If it is suspected that dangers are about to occur, and there is insufficient information about the degree of danger or relevant causal relationships."
 

Read article here (Norwegian) In english click here

Read article here (Norwegian)

In english click here

Read article here (Norwegian)

Read article here (Norwegian)

Read article here (Norwegian)

Read article here (Norwegian)