Three companies have begun court proceedings against the Norwegian government over its refusal to allow fish farming near an important coral reef.

The trio, Troland Lakseoppdrett, Langøylaks and Austevoll Melaks, operate in the Kinn Municipality on the central coast of Norway.

Yesterday they began proceedings at Hordaland District Court in a bid to get the ban overturned.

Carl-Erik Arnesen, chairman of Troland Lakseoppdrett and speaking on behalf of the three businesses, told the newspaper and website Bergens Tidende, that they were completely depending on the location, adding that the case involved both jobs and considerable value.

Troland Lakseoppdrett is one of the earlier fish farming pioneers in Norway, with a history going back to the 1970s.

The site is a 1.5 mile long coral reef known as the cauliflower reef because of its uncanny similarity to the white florets on the vegetable.

Some refer to it as Norway’s Great Barrier Reef, but that would be stretching it quite a very long way.

It was two years ago that the Oslo government decided the fish farming plants operating near the reef should be moved on the grounds that their activities could damage the reef.

The companies appealed to the national environment agency without success, so now they are hoping the court will grant them a reprieve.

Their argument is that cauliflower coral is not unusual along the Norwegian coast and as yet there is very little accurate information about the impact of fish farming on coral reefs.

But environmentalists say the number of corals and the extent of the reef make it particularly unusual.

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