Mikael sentenced for encroachment in Alta district court

Press release 2018-11-08

Swedish reporter and writer Mikael Frödin was sentenced by the Alta district court for documenting conditions at a Greig Seafood fish farming facility in the Alta fjord. Mikael Frödin claimed that the journalistic action was an act of necessity – we had no other choice but to swim close to the cage. The public must be told how the industry is affecting ecosystems, how poorly animal husbandry is handled, or how this food product is produced, says Frödin.

Mikael Frödin came to the Alta River on the 21st of July as a participant in a film production supported by the outdoor company Patagonia. The Alta River, which despite damn construction, is regarded as one of the world’s most protection-worthy salmon rivers, is strongly affected by the Norwegian salmon fish farming industry.
– The river’s salmon stock shows clear signs of negative genetic influence, sea lice parasites are killing the salmon smolt, and the fjord’s ecosystem is on the brink of a collapse, says Mikael Frödin.

The Atlantic salmon is a highly threatened species, development of the Norwegian wild salmon resource is critical with increasing threats and rapidly declining numbers. The Norwegian Scientific Council informs that the total resource in 2017 was 530,000 salmon, down by 50% in recent years - parasitic sea lice from fish farming facilities is the main cause. The council has once again, in 2018, documented the situation with continued shrinking stocks, and it points to fish farming’s escaped salmon, the sea lice issue and the spreading of infectious diseases as the root causes.
– If we do not act now the entire Norwegian wild salmon resource will soon be lost, says Frödin.

Strong images and film clips of severely diseased salmon documented by the film team have gone viral globally. WWF expert on fish and market Karin Glauman is strongly critical towards the fish farming industry and the matters documented from the Alta fjord.
– Fish farming industry is doing great damage to ecosystems; sea lice from the fish farming industry are the main cause of fatality for juvenile wild salmon, says Karin Glauman to the Swedish TV4 News.

Consumers are asking themselves, if this is what they find in supermarkets?

– An industry "achieving" 23% of all their animals dying a horrible death in 2017, speaks for itself. 53 million dead salmon could have been food but were just discarded. Negative genetic influence is an almost irreversible disaster for Norwegian wild salmon, if farmed salmon escaping cages and nets does not cease. 60% of wild salmon stocks are significantly affected by genetic pollution, 20% so badly that there is no return, says Jens Olav Flekke, chairman of the board for Reddvillaksen.no (NASF Norway).

Sentenced to fine or imprisonment
Mikael Frödin was fined 12,000 NOK or 24 days in jail and has to pay legal costs of 3,000 NOK.

– I do not think that I should be penalized for this, because it was my duty as a journalist to inform the public about the severity of the situation. The court terms it a "PR stunt", which I think is very remarkable. If the laws say we cannot look ourselves, we depend on the company for providing correct information. Now that we know how things are, we know that their information does not correlate, says Frödin.
Frödin and his lawyers now have two weeks to decide whether they want to appeal to a higher authority.

Contact information
Lawyer Svein Holden, sho@hjort.no, +47 478 59 274
Lawyer Viktor Carlberg, carlberg@2lejon.se, +46 709 54 02 00
Mikael Frödin, frodinflies@telia.com, +46 707 784 433
Jens Olav Flekke, Reddvillaksen.no, jof@dmf.no, +47 404 60 330
Eirik Sterud, Norske Lakselver, erik@lakseelver.no, +47 992 59 859