Norway PM: I Feed Salmon to My Kids

OSLO -- Saying he often fed salmon to his children, Norway's prime minister expressed hopes Wednesday that Russia would resume imports of fresh Norwegian fish, which Moscow banned due to worries about toxic metals.

"I said that it [the ban] should be lifted," Jens Stoltenberg said after meeting Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov in Oslo. "After the discussions today, I am more optimistic that it will be possible to find a quick solution."

Moscow banned fresh salmon imports from Norway on Jan. 1, saying Russian scientists had found excessive levels of the toxic metals cadmium and lead in fish samples. Norway denies that its farmed salmon, a major export earner, is unfit to eat.

"I said, I myself eat fresh fish several times a week and give it to my children," Stoltenberg told reporters after talks with Fradkov. Stoltenberg has two children.

"If there were cadmium, heavy metals and poisons, there would not be so much fish eaten in Norway," he added.

Shares of Norwegian fish-farming firms, including Pan Fish, Fjord Seafood and Cermaq, have suffered from the Russian ban. "Salmon prices are already high because of strong demand and will be even stronger if the Russians come back," said Tore Oestby, an analyst at Alfred Berg in Oslo.

Norway is the world's biggest exporter of farmed salmon, and fish is the nation's third-biggest export, behind oil and gas and aluminum.