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The seafood industry of the future

The seafood industry is one of Norway’s key future industries. The Thommessen seafood team comprises more than 20 dedicated professionals across several legal disciplines, with leading expertise on the entire value chain. We work together to safeguard client values in an industry that is strictly regulated and heavily influenced by domestic and international politics. Here you can get to know the team better and learn how we can assist your business on everything from construction projects, licences and patent law issues, to M&A, IPOs and financing.

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A leading collaboration partner for the seafood industry

Thommessen has assisted the fisheries industry since our Bergen office was established in 1928, and we were on site as the first fish farms cropped up along the coast in the 1960s and 1970s when aquaculture was in its infancy. We have since then assisted the fisheries and aquaculture industries on all commercial law aspects that affect industry players. In addition to assisting clients in conventional fisheries and aquaculture, Team Thommessen is now a leading strategic collaboration partner for the seafood industry of the future – including offshore, onshore and green seafood.

We are convinced that the industry will succeed with its growth ambitions, by tackling issues such as lice, access to sufficient farming areas and sustainable feed resources, as well as other sustainability challenges. Realising these ambitions will require original thinking from both us and the industry as a whole, echoing the spirit of the 1960s and 1970s pioneers.

The authorities are also keen to promote innovation and development. A prime example is consultation on new aquaculture licences for closed/semi-closed technology and offshore fish farming (environmental technology licences and open ocean licences), respectively. In addition, the industry will need to adapt to new general regulations, such as the ‘traffic light’ system, production taxes and changes to net wealth taxation conditions for privately held companies.

Our prime ambition is to contribute to industry growth and safeguard client values. Mons Alfred Paulsen
Partner
The team is young and hungry, full of innovative and creative ideas. They are deal facilitators; they simply make things happen for the clients. Client
The Legal 500, 2021
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We assist throughout the value chain

We have in the last few decades witnessed an impressive professionalisation of the entire seafood industry, a successful internationalisation, strong powers of innovation, as well as the ability to get ambitious and challenging projects off the ground. These developments have created a need for broader expert teams that can help industry players ensure the realisation of their growth ambitions.

Our lawyers in Bergen, Oslo, Stavanger and London have extensive seafood industry experience and expertise, including on ongoing operational issues, regulatory authority relations, licence and location clarification issues, joint ventures, industrial M&A, IPOs, financing and innovative projects. The seafood team also includes a leading contentious practice, with extensive litigation experience from public law and patent law cases that require special insight into, and experience from, the fisheries and aquaculture industries.

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Get in touch with our five specialist sub-teams

In order to be a valuable collaboration partner for our clients, it is essential to offer in-depth specialist expertise on the various links in the seafood industry value chain. This applies not only to regulatory matters, but also to how the seafood industry is run as a business – in practise. Another key focus for our seafood team is to keep fully abreast of potential changes to regulatory conditions or provisions of importance to our clients – thereby enabling us to also attend to our clients’ interests between specific engagements.

We invite you to read more about our services below. You are more than welcome to contact us for an informal discussion or additional information.

Regulatory

We have in-depth specialist expertise on legal regulations pertaining to the seafood industry. The team’s greatest strength is our keen interest in the industry, and the positive insight and knowledge accumulated through our commitment. We know from experience that this adds value for our clients.

The team is handpicked and composed on the basis of two general criteria; a genuine interest in the seafood industry and an ultra-commercial perspective on our services. Our assistance aims to safeguard client values and interests in the short and long run. This can best be achieved by keeping our clients’ interests at the forefront of our minds at all times, also between specific engagements.

We are also proud to be retained as trusted long-term advisors to leading seafood industry players. By forming an integral part of our clients’ decision-making processes over time, we can provide swift and specific advice and guidance that safeguards their long- and short-term interests.

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Regulatorisk team

M&A and equity markets

Thommessen is a leading IPO, M&A and company law advisor, with an in-depth understanding of pricing issues, adjustment mechanisms and warranty regulations that are often specific to seafood industry transactions.

Our M&A practise has been a market leader for a number of years, with a continuous presence at the top of league tables – in terms of both transaction value and the number of transactions. In 2021, we assisted, for example, Salmonor in its merger with Midt-Norsk Havbruk AS, as well as Måsøval in its acquisition of Vartdal Gruppen. We have in recent years also been involved in several Euronext Growth listings. Our references include companies like Frøy, Måsøval, Islandic Salmon, Proximar Seafood, Ice Fish Farm and Andfjord Salmon.

Our assistance in acquisition processes includes, for example, assessing whether the business is in compliance with regulatory ESG requirements. The team reviews any ESG-related correspondence with relevant authorities, and we also assess the applicable ESD procedures and guidelines of the business. We also assist issuers with getting an overview of, complying with, or keeping a step ahead of, ESG information disclosure requirements.

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MA team

Financing and debt markets

Thommessen is recognised as a leading banking and financing advisor. The team is highly respected for its broad experience, legal expertise and ability to successfully complete projects, and has extensive experience from assisting seafood industry clients on complex financing projects.

In bank lending processes we assist both banks and borrowers on banking facilities, and have advised on several major international aquaculture sector financing rounds. We have also completed a number of bank financing projects in this sector in which loan pricing is determined by ESG criteria ("sustainability-linked pricing"). We also assist arrangers and companies on new bond issues. This includes advice on, for example, green bonds and sustainability-linked bonds. In addition to advice throughout the term of the bond loan, we assist with the entire issuance process from drafting the term sheet to listing the bonds.

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Finansiering team

Dispute resolution

Our dispute resolution team has extensive litigation experience from a number of public law and private law disputes that require special insight into the fisheries and aquaculture industries.

The team represents small and large seafood industry players in litigations of major importance – not only to the individual party, but to the industry as a whole. We also assist in dialogues with, and complaints proceedings against, regulatory and supervisory authorities. We are committed to keeping on top of all industry developments in order to provide targeted assistance.

As an example of litigation over matters of principle, we acted for Pelagia AS in a case concerning the powers of cooperative sales organisations under the Fishing Sales Cooperatives Act. The case was adjudicated by the Supreme Court in November 2021, with Pelagia AS prevailing on all aspects of the appeal. We have also successfully guided the innovative harvest vessel "Norwegian Gannet" through a battle with the Ministry and the Government. In the all-important ‘traffic light’ case against the State, represented by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, we have assisted all fish farmers in production area PO4, and we have provided input for the evaluation of the ‘traffic light’ system. We have also assisted on a number of aquaculture technology cases, including patent disputes in relation to vaccines, smoltification feeds and fish pen solution.

Dispute resolution in Thommessen is systemised and professionalised. We are focused on identifying and managing risk. We are also committed to resolving disputes without unnecessary time or money being spent, and without unduly straining relations between the parties involved.

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Tvist team

Construction projects

Team Thommessen has expertise on inshore, offshore and onshore construction projects in the seafood industry. We have for more than a century assisted on shipbuilding projects, from ordinary fishing boats to major purse seine vessels, and in the last few decades on the numerous impressive vessels that provide services to the aquaculture sector.

We have been involved from the construction of the most basic fish pens to the current inshore and offshore innovations. We have assisted our clients in their development of hatcheries and nurseries, and have drawn on our smolt experience in advising on the large-scale onshore grow-out facilities introduced in recent years.

We have found solutions where innovations are being inhibited by outdated regulations, such as for Norwegian Gannet. We have had the honour of contributing on impressive flagships such as "Kristoffer Tronds" and "Ronja Storm". We are currently assisting on a number of inshore and onshore construction projects, development licence projects in progress, vessels under construction, new fisheries and aquaculture technology in the test phase, and the construction of onshore facilities in Norway and elsewhere in Europe, as well as in Asia and the Americas.

A general characteristic of all of these projects is that they differ significantly from ordinary construction projects, because it is "all about the fish". It is of key importance to understand biological risk, the risk associated with fresh and delicate raw materials, as well as special considerations such as food safety and hygiene, along with the plethora of special requirements that apply. This makes the projects particularly challenging, but also uniquely interesting because our industry knowledge can make all the difference.

If your business is looking for assistance on major projects to generate further growth or safeguard values, we would be delighted to talk through what we can do to contribute to your project success.

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