Norway to become the world’s foremost seafood nation?
By Mike Urch, SeafoodSource contributing editor
17 September, 2012
Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, Norway’s minister for fisheries and coastal affairs, stated that this was the country’s aim when she opened the Nor-Fishing exhibition in Trondheim last month.
Norway’s coastal activity is thriving, because “we have done things correctly,” according to Berg-Hansen.
“We have substantial fish stocks, and scientists have advised a historically high quota for next year,” she said. “The spawning stock of cod in the Barents Sea is at its highest level since the war, and is likely to produce the foremost cod stocks in the world.
“In 2011, Norwegian fisheries achieved the highest catch value of our time — amounting to NOK 16 billion (USD 2.8 billion). And last year the value of our seafood exports was NOK 53 billion (USD 9 billion).”
But the Norwegian government was not satisfied, she added. “We will go further. We will continue to develop the Norwegian seafood industry by creating higher values, setting more hands and heads to work and increasing quality.”
Berg-Hansen quoted from a new report prepared by a working group appointed by two of Norway’s scientific societies: The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, and The Norwegian Academy of Science and Technology.
According to Berg-Hansen, the report discusses Norway’s opportunities for value creation based on marine resources and paints a promising picture of the future prospects for Norway as a marine nation.
“It estimates that marine value creation has the potential for a six-fold increase by 2050: From a turnover of NOK 90 billion (USD 15.8 billion) in 2010 — to NOK 500 billion (USD 86 billion) in 2050.”
Looking ahead to 2050, the scientific societies have analyzed the trends pushing development: The need for increased food production because of the rising world population; increased purchasing power; and the demand for healthier products.
“They have looked at the development of new industries based on algae and other marine resources,” said Berg-Hansen. “They have evaluated the potential for growth in the supply industry. And, of course, they have looked at development in traditional seafood production.”
Norway is still in the early phase of harvesting its marine environment, Berg-Hansen said, and added that the Norwegian government is preparing a parliamentary white paper on seafood policy. Among other measures, this will recommend continuing to manage resources in a sustainable manner and continuing to invest in research and innovation.
“We need new expertise for developing this industry, encompassing technology, equipment, biology and stock levels,” said Berg-Hansen.
There will be a range of measures to help Norwegian fisheries develop in the face of fierce international competition and these will include maintaining a secondary processing industry in Norway.
Two of the keys to a successful expansion of the industry are skill and education, “and we must think carefully about ways to recruit new young people into the industry,” she said.
It would be unthinkable for Berg-Hansen not to have presented Norway’s fisheries industry in a positive light. But she went much further than that: “Few other industries can declare such future prospects. Few other industries have the potential not only to create value and employment at home, but also to contribute to global food requirements.”
She pointed out that 13 years ago, the same scientific societies that prepared the current report she quoted from had estimated that the Norwegian seafood industry in 2010 would reach a turnover of NOK 75 billion (USD 13 billion).
“There were many who doubted this estimate,” she said. “Now we know the answer and they were close to the truth. The result was 90 billion. The seafood industry has enjoyed a growth rate way above other industries and has confirmed its position as one of the country’s most important industries.”
All this makes a very pleasant change from the messages of doom and gloom emanating from other countries. Let's hope that Norway’s fisheries industry can fulfill its obvious promise and show other countries the way ahead.
17 September, 2012