When Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, visited Norway this week (12 June) to promote aquaculture he was flanked by security guards and refused to be photographed or be interviewed by the media.
Media who wanted to film Mr. Annan, the keynote speaker at the Nutreco-sponsored conference Aqua Vision, were only permitted to film briefly, were not allowed to ask questions and had to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Outside the conference in Stavanger, photographers and journalists who refused to sign the gagging order mingled with protestors who were forced to wait outside the hotel venue.
Protestors included the Green Warriors of Norway questioning Mr. Annan's support for salmon farming and Syrians making their voices heard about Mr. Annan's role as a peacekeeper in Syria.
Watch TV2 News - online here
“We welcome Kofi Annan to Norway,” said Kurt Oddekalv, leader of the Green Warriors of Norway. “However, promoting salmon aquaculture as a solution to the world food crisis is socially and environmentally irresponsible. Farming salmon is stealing precious protein from the mouths of hungry people in Africa and South America. Salmon farmers are modern day pirates of the seven seas.”
Read more via "Farming salmon is stealing food from poor people and our oceans"
When a TV2 News reporter tried to ask a question she was brushed aside by security.
Once inside the conference venue, Kofi Annan delivered his keynote presentation to 400 delegates who incldued the CEOs of Marine Harvest, Skretting, Nutreco and Grieg as well as Norway's Minister of Fisheries Lisbeth Berg-Hansen (herself a salmon farm owner):
Photo approval had to be sanctioned by the conference sponsors Skretting:
Approved photos showed exceutives laughing and joking whilst protestors were locked outside:
Unapproved photos shot by a press association photographer who refused to sign the confidentiality agreement showed the view from through the window:
Protestors waited patiently outside but Mr. Annan was too busy eating his farmed salmon luncheon to bother meeting the public:
Norway's state broadcaster NRK also reported from outside the conference - watch online here
NRK News (12 June) also interviewed Kurt Oddekalv of the Green Warriors of Norway who was refused entry to the conference by security - watch online here
Mr. Annan's refusal to be photographed or interviewed, described as "very strange" by a Norwegian press association, is all the more surprising due to his history of openness and transparency with the media - here he is taking photos of the press gallery at a summit in Rio in 2002:
Mr. Annan also refused a request by the Green Warriors of Norway to a meeting prior to the conference - instead choosing to hide inside his hotel and refusing to speak to the waiting media.
Read a letter sent to Kofi Annan by the Green Warriors - online here
The letter includes:
“Put simply, we should be eating forage fish directly to feed the malnourished around the world rather than feeding forage fish to salmon farms to produce a ‘luxury’ product to feed the engorged in Europe, the United States and Japan. If you are serious about sustainability then you should cut out the middle-man and stop the flow of forage fish to the salmon farming industry.”
“It is clear that the conference organizers and sponsor – the feed companies Nutreco and Skretting – have a vested interest in presenting salmon aquaculture as ‘sustainable’ as well as socially and environmentally acceptable. However, you would be doing the hungry people of the world a serious injustice if you presented salmon farming as anything other than what Dr. Daniel Pauly calls “a giant Ponzi scheme” which is robbing our oceans of fish to feed the rich.”
Read in full online here