OSLO Aug 7 Shares of Oslo-listed fish farming
stocks tumbled on Thursday after Russia announced plans to ban
fish imports, depriving salmon producers of their biggest market
and threatening a solid year buoyed by record high fish prices.
Norway's Marine Harvest, controlled by shipping
tycoon John Fredriksen, tumbled 10 percent, Salmar
fell 9 percent and Grieg Seafood fell 7.4 percent on
the likely loss of a key export market and the expected price
falls caused by reduced demand.
Fredriksen's offshore drilling firm Seadrill last
month signed a $4.25 billion Arctic rig deal with Russia's
Rosneft just hours before Western sanctions that could
potentially have prevented the deal kicked in.
Russia's move, which includes a total ban on imports of many
Western foods, is a retaliation for Western measures imposed
over Russia's role in the Ukrainian conflict.
"It looks like the import ban will affect most Norwegian
seafood exports," Are Kvistad, a spokesman for the Norwegian
Seafood Federation, said. "This will have serious consequences
for Norwegian seafood businesses in the short term."
Norway accounts for around half of global farmed salmon
production and a tenth of its total seafood exports go to
Russia. Norway's seafood exports totalled 6.5 billion crowns
($1.04 billion) last year and were set to rise sharply this year
as salmon prices, which is the biggest export group, remain high
after hitting a record at the start of the year.
"For now volumes for today and tomorrow are scheduled for
shipment," Salmar CEO Leif Inge Nordhammer said. "If it becomes
a total ban, fish exports have to find other markets, other
countries. That would be challenging in the short term."
Other shares to record big drops included Bakkafrost
, down 7.6 percent, and Norway Royal Salmon,
down 7.3 percent.
(Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord and Camilla Knudsen, editing
by David Evans)