How Norway’s seafood industry seeks growth with foreign buyers

Published on
September 29, 2015

The fisheries and aquaculture industries in Norway are not expanding in terms of number of companies, so industry leaders are focusing on foreign trade as the source of the sector’s overall future growth.

This is definitely the view of the Nor-Fishing Foundation, which organizes the country’s two big international aquaculture and fisheries technology exhibitions, Aqua Nor and Nor-Fishing. The Foundation is therefore concentrating its efforts to attract more foreign visitors to these shows in order to give exhibitors (mostly Norwegian) more exposure to overseas interest.

These efforts seem to be paying off and Aqua Nor 2015, which was held in August, attracted more visitors than ever before, coming from 76 other countries, in addition to the host nation.

“We have never before had so many visitors from so many different countries,” said communications director, Erik Hempel. “Never before has Aqua Nor attracted so much attention internationally. Over one third of the world’s nations were present.”

Norway has pioneered the farming of salmon and other coldwater marine species such as halibut, turbot, wolfish and cod. “This is an important reason why we managed to attract so many visitors this year,” Hempel said. “The salmon industry is going well in Norway, and a lot of countries with aquaculture ambitions are now looking to Norway for ideas.”

Although principally known for its salmon farming expertise, Norwegian technology suppliers have also become more and more involved with warmwater aquaculture during the past decade. They have delivered equipment and services to a number of tropical or sub-tropical fish farming operations including the farming of tilapia in Malaysia and cobia in Vietnam.

Now, in addition to Southeast Asia, potential growth for future Norwegian aquaculture technology development is seen in East Africa and South America.

The Nor-Fishing Foundation is constantly working on new incentives to attract foreign visitors to its shows. For example, in 2014 the Foundation introduced its Travel Stipend which enables a specialist from a developing nation to visit the exhibition, all expenses paid. Not surprisingly this award has received a lot of attention and in 2015 dozens of applications came from around the world to attend Aqua Nor.

Another initiative was to design mini-conferences and seminars especially for foreign visitors to give an insight into what Norwegian fisheries technology is all about and why it has been so successful.

“This year at Aqua Nor 2015, which was held in Trondheim from 18-21 August, we [the Foundation] organized our own seminar ‘Is Norwegian aquaculture technology relevant to other countries and other species?’” said Hempel. “The seminar was overbooked by almost 100 percent! In view of this interest we filmed the event and this is now available on our website.”

Furthermore the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries invited a record number of official foreign delegations to Aqua Nor 2015.

These delegations were mostly headed by fisheries ministers and this official level of interest naturally brought more visitors from these countries to Aqua Nor. Plus they brought commercial delegations from neighboring countries as well. For example, there was an official delegation from Indonesia and one from Malaysia.

As most of the extra visitors to Aqua Nor this year were from overseas compared with the last time the exhibition was held in 2013, the Nor-Fishing Foundation is already preparing to increase the number of foreign visitors to Nor-Fishing 2016. This exhibition will be held in Trondheim from 16 to 19 August next year.

“We will run a seminar especially for foreigners, probably calling it ‘The Norwegian Way – what is special about Norwegian fisheries?’ where we focus on vessel design, deck equipment, fisheries management, and sustainable fisheries,” Hempel said. “The program needs to be fine-tuned of course, but we are collecting ideas at the moment.”

The Nor-Fishing Foundation is an atypical exhibition organization in that it is not a commercial company. It is a non-profit foundation established by law in 1991 and comprises officials from various fisheries bodies under the Directorate of Fisheries (also representing the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, the director of which is always the chairman of the Foundation’s board).

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