Fritt Ord drops Pan Fish stake

Atle Eide of Pan Fish said his company won’t operate fish farms where they’re not welcome.

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The highly respected Freedom of Expression Foundation in Oslo (Fritt Ord) has sold off its holdings in seafood giant Pan Fish, because of its concerns over Pan Fish’s fish-farming operations in Canada and Chile.

In addition to defending freedom of expression, Fritt Ord has strict ethical guidelines for its investments. It has consistently veered away from investments in weapons production, alcohol and tobacco, for example.

Now it’s worried about Pan Fish’s investments in fish farming outside Norway. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reported this spring on native peoples (“first nations”) groups in British Columbia who fear that fish farming will ruin their traditional stocks of wild salmon in the Skeena River. There’s also been concern over labour conditions at fish farms in Chile.

Foundation director Erik Rudeng told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv on Tuesday that he’s aware of Pan Fish statements that it will clarify its position. Pan Fish chief executive Atle Eide also has said Pan Fish won’t make any new fish farming investments in British Columbia that aren’t welcome.

But Rudeng said the foundation has given up its Pan Fish holdings, which amounted to shares worth about NOK 80 million, in the meantime.

“It’s important for us to have an ethical evaluation of where our investments are placed,” Rudeng said. “At the same time, I think all companies will profit from maintaining clear ethical standards.”

The Freedom of Expression Foundation says its “paramount” objective is “to protect and promote freedom of expression and the environment for freedom of expression…” particularly by encouraging lively debate and the dauntless use of the free word.

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