Havbruk Norge

OPPDRETTSNÆRINGENS OMDØMME – OG BETYDNINGEN AV HVORDAN DEN OMTALES

03 May 2012

Oppdrettsnæringens omdømme er et viktig spørsmål som debatteres heftig for tiden – og som egentlig har vært et tilbakevendende tema over mange år. Men hva er det egentlig som truer […]

Oppdrettsnæringens omdømme er et viktig spørsmål som debatteres heftig for tiden – og som egentlig har vært et tilbakevendende tema over mange år. Men hva er det egentlig som truer omdømmet? Det er et tankekors at noe av det som skader omdømmet mest er uttalelser som egentlig ikke har til hensikt å skade næringen i det hele tatt. Temaet for denne artikkelen er myndighetenes omtale av oppdrettsnæringen.

Ulike myndigheter bruker ofte store ord for å karakterisere næringen. Jeg leste for eksempel i media i forrige uke at miljøvernsjefen i et fylke har holdt et foredrag på en offentlig konferanse der han har karakterisert oppdretterne i skarpe ordelag for på den ene siden å være svært lite opptatt av miljø og på den annen side kun opptatt av egen profitt. Jeg vet ikke hvilken bakgrunn miljøvernsjefen hadde for sin uttalelse, men mitt poeng er at slike uttalelser fra myndighetene har en betydelig effekt for omdømmet til næringen. Kommer kritikk fra miljøorganisasjoner eller andre interessegrupper forventer man at den er ensidig – det er tross alt deres oppgave. Er det myndighetene som reiser kritikken gir den et helt annet inntrykk.

Og kritikken fra miljøvernsjefen står ikke alene. Vi har i dag en skog av myndigheter som har ansvar for deler av oppdrettsforvaltningen, og behovet for å markere seg for de ulike myndigheter synes å være langt større enn det vi tidligere har erfart. Derfor er det svært mange som med myndighet og troverdighet uttaler seg om næringens virksomhet – og det er ingen mangel på negative karakteristikker.

Samtidig rammer myndighetene næringen også med uttalelser som ikke er så sterkt negative. Den vanligste uttalelsen fra myndighetenes side er at oppdrettsnæringen har et dårlig omdømme, og at de må gjøre noe med dette. Også en slik uttalelse blir negativ for næringen – særlig når den til stadighet gjentas. Den gir et inntrykk av at næringen aldri ”skjønner alvoret” og gjennomfører de nødvendige tiltakene.

Det er selvsagt riktig at oppdrettsnæringen må ta hovedansvaret for sitt omdømme. Men samtidig bør særlig myndighetene være seg bevisst den store betydningen deres uttalelser har.  De har selvsagt rett til å si hva de mener, men samtidig bør de vurdere effekten av sine uttalelser. For realiteten er at oppdrettsnæringen har liten sjanse til å bedre sitt omdømme dersom myndighetene ikke støtter opp.

Generelt er det derfor grunn til å oppfordre representanter for myndighetene til å vurdere sine kritiske uttalelser også ut fra det hensynet til næringens omdømme.

Ut fra egne erfaringer er det også grunn til å be myndighetene ta hensyn til næringens omdømme ved omtale av enkeltsaker. Som advokat for oppdrettere i konflikt med myndighetene opplever man av og til at sakene omtales i pressen – særlig når det er truffet en offentlig avgjørelse. Og dersom avgjørelsen ikke går i oppdretterens favør opplever vi ofte at saken fremstilles som en klar sak om uakseptabel opptreden i næringen, selv om realiteten var at det var en uklar sak der oppdretteren hadde god grunn til å handle som han gjorde.  I slike tilfeller kunne man ofte ønsket at myndighetene tok mer hensyn til næringens generelle omdømme, og lot være å fremstille forholdene som mer kritikkverdig enn de egentlig var.

Hvor er så jussen i dette? Hva skal til for at en negativ uttalelse om næringen blir ulovlig?

Svaret på det spørsmålet er at det skal ekstremt mye til. Vi har (heldigvis) en ytringsfrihet som står sterkt, og det å uttale seg kritisk om en næring vil selvsagt være dekket av ytringsfriheten selv om man setter saken på spissen og selv om uttalelsene er egnet til å skade næringens omdømme.

Det går imidlertid en grense, og spørsmålet om grensene er overtrådt er blant annet tema for den rettssaken som for tiden foregår i Canada mellom Cermaq og en Canadisk miljøverngruppe. Spørsmålet om rettslig ansvar er også drøftet etter kraftige uttalelser fra miljøvernere i Norge. Som utgangspunkt vil det imidlertid kun være i helt ekstreme tilfeller at det vil være adgang til å reagere på rettslig grunnlag etter negativ omtale av oppdrettsnæringen.

Dette innebærer selvsagt ikke at alle bør komme med kritiske ytringer. For myndighetene ligger det etter min mening en særlig utfordring i den ekstremt oppdelte myndighetsstruktur man har valgt å ha overfor oppdrettsnæringen. Det gjør at svært mange myndigheter kan se næringen som ”sitt bord” og ha en faglig innfallsvinkel for å uttale seg.  Og det kan skje på bakgrunn av en ganske ensidig innfallsvinkel i og med at den enkelte fagmyndighet kun har ansvar for en side ved næringen.  I denne situasjonen er det spørsmål om ikke fiskerimyndighetene sentralt bør ta styring med sikte på å unngå uheldige utspill fra sektormyndighetene som utilsiktet kan skade næringens omdømme.  Dette bør i hvert fall være et viktig tema når myndigheter treffes for å drøfte spørsmål knyttet til en god helhetlig forvaltning av næringen.

Om forfatteren

Halfdan Mellbye
Halfdan Mellbye Halfdan Mellbye har i 25 år arbeidet med ulike juridiske problemstillinger innenfor fiskeri- og havbruksnæringen. Han har blant annet arbeidet svært mye med næringsreguleringsspørmål og han har i tillegg særlig gode kunnskaper om de biologiske og miljømessige utfordringene for næringsutøverne. Han har i en årrekke vært faglig ansvarlig for faget Havbruksjus ved Universitetet i Bergen. Han har nylig utgitt boken "Rettslig regulering av norsk akvakultur" som er utgitt på Universitetsforlaget 2018. Halfdan har møterett for Høyesterett.

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