Norway charges journalist for reporting on environmental crimes

Mikael Frödin appeals sentence in salmon farming court case

Mikael Frödin investigates Grieg Seafoods fish farming facility in Alta fjord, Norway

Mikael Frödin appeals sentence in salmon farming court case

Article first published here 

Swedish reporter and writer Mikael Frödin was sentenced by the Alta district court for documenting conditions at Grieg Seafoods fish farming facility in the Alta fjord, Norway. Mikael Frödin will appeal the verdict.

My journalistic action was done in the general public’s interest; we are revealing environmental crime, detestable animal management, and collapsing ecosystems. Far more serious violations than the documentation led to. I do not think, I should be the one to be sentenced,

Mikael Frödin came to the Alta River in Northern Norway on July 21st, 2017 participating in a large film production supported by the outdoor company Patagonia. He swam towards a fish farming facility’s cages and filmed deformed and severely disease-ridden salmon; images that have now spread in news media globally. 

"If Norway does not undertake a huge effort against the glaring environmental problems created by the fish farming industry, the entire wild salmon resource will soon be lost, and Norway will be left with collapsed fjord systems and large scale genetic pollution for future generations," says Frödin. 

Norway produces 1.3 million tons of salmon per year. Production requires 5 million tons of wild fish and soy that could have been used as food. Production requires huge water areas, thousands of tons of chemicals, and spreads diseases and parasites with devastating consequences for ecosystems. This food product carries strong traces of chemicals. EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, reported in November 2018: ’An individual with a body weight of 154 pounds (70 kilo) consuming 185 grams of salmon will reach the maximum amount of environmental poison tolerable per week without increased health risks. A child can only tolerate 90 grams.”

Appeals the sentence

Mikael Frödin was convicted of encroachment and fined 12,000 Norwegian kroner (NOK) or 24 days of incarceration, as well as being imposed court costs of NOK 3,000. 

"I do not think that I should be the one to be sentenced, because it was my duty as a reporter to shed light on the gravity of the situation for the general public. If the law says that you cannot look for yourself, we are dependent on the companies providing correct information. Now that we know how it looks, we know their information does not tally," says Frödin. 

Frödin claims that the journalistic act was a rescue action, which should be covered by the provisions within the law on necessity. Lawyer Svein Holden says: 

"In our opinion this case raises several fundamental questions, which have not been tried previously by Norwegian courts of law. Frödin’s purpose with this act was to create an environmental policy debate and contribute to a change of framework conditions for the fish farming industry. That is why we think it is important to have the assessment of the Hålogaland court of appeal on whether his act meets the conditions inscribed in the provisions on necessity."