Norway is one of the world's leading seafood exporters and seafood is, after oil, the second biggest export commodity, bringing in earnings in 2002 of NOK 30.6 billion (USD 3.5 billion).
In Norway, there is an increasing awareness of the huge potential that lies in the development of marine resources. For Norway it is of major importance that the production of Norwegian seafood should comply with the strictest requirements to health and hygiene and be based on sustainable and environmentally friendly production and harvesting methods.
Fisheries have always been a central component of Norwegian business and industry because Norway controls some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. The North Sea, Norwegian coast, Barents Sea and the polar front in the Norwegian Sea are all highly productive areas, and major fish resources spawn right outside the coast of Norway. The coastline is also particularly well suited to environmentally friendly fish farming, and the aquaculture industry has grown tremendously in recent years, becoming a new, valuable industry for the coastal areas. In 2002 Norway exported farmed salmon and trout worth NOK 12.5 billion (USD 1.4 billion).
In 1946, Norway became the first country in the world to establish a separate Ministry of Fisheries.
Responsible & Sustainable
In the last 30 years Norwegian fisheries, once virtually free and open, have become a profitable and sustainable industry regulated by quotas and licences.
Norway's goal is to protect and build up stocks to enable annual harvesting of as high and stable fishing quotas as possible based on the principle of responsible fishing. In order to succeed, Norway is committed to marine research, including multi-species studies, which tell of the relationship between the various species of fish and sea mammals in the ocean.
Atlantic salmon and trout farming have dominated aquaculture, although considerable efforts have been brought to bear in expanding profitable production to other species. The combination of aquaculture and traditional fishing - sea ranching - is at the trial stage. This entails setting out and recapturing organisms in their natural environmental habitats.
About 80 % of the total quantity of fish that is brought to land in Norway is exported. The business is reliant on market profits and this means that all links in the chain must emphasize quality. For the authorities, the goal is to increase value creation in the industry through sound management of resources, further growth of the aquaculture industry with new species in addition to Atlantic salmon and trout, increased fish processing and better utilisation of fish by-products. Norway aims to be a leading operator within the marine technology sector. Profitable and successful operators in a diversified fishing fleet, in aquaculture and in the fish processing industry are crucial in order to ensure thriving towns along Norway's long coastline.
Vital Industry for Norway
The industry provides work for over 21,300 people in the fishing fleet, (of whom more than 15,300 have fishing as their sole or main occupation) about 12,500 in the fish processing industry and over 3,700 in farming of fish and shellfish.
Figures for 2002 show that over 3.4 million tonnes of fish, with a landed value of NOK 10 billion, were brought ashore. Exports of fish and fish products amounted to NOK 30.6 billion. Norway currently sells fish and fish products to 170 countries.
A Window to the World
Quotas are set on the basis of evaluations and advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Norway also takes part in several international management agencies such as the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO), the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO). NEAFC has in recent years played an active part in the regulation of reserves in international waters in the northeast Atlantic. NAFO works in the same way in the northwest Atlantic.
Fisheries officials work on trade policy with other countries, both in international organisations such as the OECD and WTO and with individual countries and groups of countries such as the EU (through the EEA Agreement), EFTA and the like. International work on ensuring safe food is in addition conducted through the FAO/WTO organisation Codex Alimentarius.
A Variety of Fishing Methods
Norway has a diversified and technologically advanced fishing fleet, encompassing everything from one-man sjarks (small inshore fishing vessels) to large trawlers and purse seiners. A number of these are equipped with processing machinery for on-board production. At the end of 2002 the fleet totalled 11,940 fishing vessels. Only small portions of the registered vessels are used for year-round fishing. Cod fisheries, which comprise fishing for cod, saithe, haddock, bream, ling, halibut and a number of other species, are harvested with nets, lines, hand-lines, Danish seines, seines and trawls. Fishing for pelagic species such as herring, mackerel and capelin is done for the most part with ring nets. Industrial fish such as Norway pout, sand eel and blue whiting are caught with trawls.
An Environmentally Friendly Zone
In the past 20 years the Norwegian aquaculture industry has grown tremendously. Today the business is a modern and internationally competitive industry that efficiently produces valuable food. The majority of the production focus is upon Atlantic salmon and trout. Arctic char is a new aquaculture species, and work has been done on species such as halibut, Atlantic wolffish (catfish) and scallops. Production from fish farming is now twice as large as the combined production of meat in Norwegian agriculture. In the longer term there is little doubt that aquaculture will play anessential role in the production of seafood, provided it is done in an environmentally friendly way. Fisheries officials are strongly involved in the work of planning the future use of Norway's inshore areas. The point of this planning is to balance the various user interests, and fish farming, fishing and exploitation of kelp and sea tangle will play an important role.
An official licence is required for those who carry out farming of fish and shellfish in Norway. A condition for receiving a license is that the activity does not comprise a danger for the spreading of fish diseases and that the facilities do not come in conflict with other local interests. Great strides in health and environmental initiatives have been made in the last few years - the same goes for efforts to raise technical standards and improve guidelines for operating fish farms. The level of expertise is high and there is a wide spectrum of measures designed to ensure an environment-friendly development and growth within the industry.
Industry & Export
The EU is the most important market and around 60 per cent of total Norwegian fish exports, worth NOK 30.6 billion, go to EU countries. The biggest single markets are Japan, Denmark, Great Britain and France. The last few years have seen promising developments in several Asian markets and rapidly swelling exports to a number of other countries in Eastern Europe. In South America, Brazil buys large quantities of clip fish (split cod) and exports to the United States are on the rise again. Work on gaining improved market access is one of the Ministry of Fisheries' main priorities.
The Norwegian Seafood Export Council in Tromsø has representatives in key markets and co-ordinates marketing campaigns for the industry overseas.The Council also has management responsibilities and is an advisory body to the Ministry of Fisheries.
The Norwegian fisheries industry consists of many small and medium sized companies spread up and down the coast. The authorities have taken measures, and a number of companies have made strong efforts to modernise facilities and equipment, ensure quality, as well as improve competence and marketing. The Norwegian fisheries industry delivers high quality products - ensuring that Norway continues to be a major exporter of seafood. The processing industry, based on raw material from both fishing and aquaculture, has a huge impact on activity, jobs and economic development in the coastal districts.
A total of NOK 700 million is appropriated annually for fisheries research. Key words in aquacultureare hatching and feeding of fry, genetics and fish health. Biotechnology has high priority. Part of the public funding of fisheries research has been channelled through the Research Council of Norway. The Research Council is an advisory body to the Ministry of Fisheries in research issues.
Much of the international co-operation takes place through the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The Norwegian Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Tromsø conducts research on aquaculture, biology, biotechnology processing and markets. Guaranteed safe food and high quality are basic conditions for modern foodstuffs export. The Norwegian fishing authorities emphasize satisfactory systems to ensure this.
An Investment in the Future
Protection of resources based on the principle of sustainable and profitable development is the No. 1 objective of Norway's fishery policy goals. The health of marine habitats is a guiding principle of Norway's fishery policy. Successful initiatives both here and in preventing the decimation of the world's oceans will ensure that the sea will always be a renewable larder for humans.