Nor-Fishing research held tight to the vest
By Mike Urch, SeafoodSource contributing editor
06 August, 2012
The Nor-Fishing Foundation, which owns and organizes Nor-Fishing, the long-running biennial Norwegian fisheries exhibition that opens its doors in Trondheim from 14 to 17 August, claims it has been deliberately targeting foreign visitors during the past four years. Certainly the show is growing with more exhibitors than ever taking part.
“In the last couple of weeks we have had to open another hall that we don’t usually use as an exhibition area,” said Kari Steinsbø, Nor-Fishing project manager. “Interest from exhibitors is great.
However, it is not just the exhibits that visitors come to see. They also come to network, and to attend the various presentations and seminars that are held alongside the exhibition. And it is here that the foundation is plainly not doing its best to attract foreign visitors. Incredibly, the topics to be covered in the conferences and seminars still hadn’t been decided 10 days before the exhibition begins.
“The program is preliminary and incomplete,” said Erik Hempel, communications director. “We are still waiting for important information.
“The problem is that most of the seminars are organized by other bodies and not coordinated with us at Nor-Fishing.” This seems a strange state of affairs to put it mildly, but Hempel said, “traditionally, Nor-Fishing has always been a Norwegian exhibition, whereas Aqua Nor [also owned and organized by the Nor-Fishing Foundation, which takes place in Norway in alternate years] is much more international.”
If the conference and seminar program follows the pattern of the last Nor-Fishing, it will be crammed full of the results of work carried out by staff at Norwegian universities and research institutions. Unfortunately, based on the experiences of the last show, much of this research will be reported in Norwegian only, a language that is only really understood within the country itself, certainly not outside Scandinavia.
In addition, many of the smaller presentations by individual companies will also be in Norwegian, according to Hempel, as will the daily debates held at the exhibition’s Speaker’s Corner. Why this should be so when most Norwegians speak perfect English is a mystery. Is it a matter of national pride? If so, then it cannot help to fulfill the organizer’s stated aim of attracting more foreign visitors.
Norway is, and always has been, a leading fishing and fish-handling nation. Fisheries ranks second behind oil and gas as the country’s most important industry. Furthermore, most of the 5 million inhabitants are connected to the industry in some way.
Not surprisingly therefore, Norwegian scientists are carrying out work of utmost importance for the industry and it would be hoped that they would use the country’s only fisheries exhibition to share their progress and results with international visitors. After all, these visitors will be intimately connected to the fisheries industry.
Nor-Fishing is the world’s oldest fisheries exhibition still in operation, but keeping the conference side of it a more or less parochial event — some conferences will be conducted in English — does not augur well for the future of the show. This point is not lost on some of the people closely connected to it.
“I think we should do more in English if Nor-Fishing is going to continue to grow,” said Hempel.
However, whatever language is spoken at the show, what should resonate with all visitors is that the Nor-Fishing Foundation is not concerned about pressure from the environmental lobby. Each day there will be a selection of raw seafood delicacies from Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost county. And each day these delicacies will feature whale in various presentations ranging from carpaccio, to marinated, to smoked and dried.
What a feast for the NGOs to get their teeth into!
06 August, 2012