China will this week ban the import of whole salmon farmed in Norway, said the Norwegian Food Safety Authority on Monday.
From September 10th Norwegian exporters must certify their fish are free from infectious salmon anaemia (ILA) as well as variants of the virus, reported Reuters.
The ban from China only applies to whole salmon. Partially processed salmon, including fish without heads, gills and entrails, can be imported to China, the safety authority confirmed.
Norway exported salmon worth 383 million kroner ($61 million) in 2013. This was just below 1 percent of the total exports. There are however reasons to believe that a lot of the Norwegian salmon ends up in China, having first been through many other countries.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority explained the cause of the import ban is China requires a guarantee that the salmon is free of ILA in order to prevent contamination of this disease to Chinese fish populations.
Friede Andersen, head of fish health at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, is quoted on the organization's website: “Such a guarantee is difficult to give because it also demands being free of a version of the ILA virus that is to a small degree, if at all, pathogenic. This version of the virus (HPR0) is not uncommon in European waters.”
The ILA virus is related to the flu virus, but is harmless to humans.
Chinese authorities at the General Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) claimed that the ILA virus was found in a batch of Norwegian salmon this summer. Because of the findings, China requires new proof contents in the health certificate of the salmon imported. Norway will now have to guarantee that salmon with heads comes from an ILA-free area.
Head of section of export and import in the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, Grethe Bynes, said: “We will continue our dialogue with AQSIQ to find a solution to the problem. Trade with other fish and seafood, including other salmon produce, will continue as usual.”