Norway is signified by the sea and the country’s coastline. Marine resources have been a natural source for work, income, settlement and transportation. However, Norway wouldn’t have become the great fisheries and aquaculture nation we know today without the considerable priority that the Norwegian authorities have placed on research and development over the last few decades.
Knowledge and competence are at the base of Norway’s management of marine resources, creating a lasting foundation for production and harvesting. Thus, Norwegian authorities are active participants in the battle against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This kind of fishing threatens fish stocks and, as a consequence, the industrial base for law-abiding fishermen. It is therefore important that we cooperate with other countries in order to fight this illegal activity. I am especially pleased that NEAFC is implementing a completely new set of rules and regulations for harbour governmental control on May 1, 2007. This will lead to a dramatic improvement in inspections and control in several European countries and hopefully pirate vessels will have to use a great deal of valuable time finding a port in a country that is willing to receive fish caught illegally.
Ensuring the sustainability of Norway’s fisheries and aquaculture industry also involves maintaining the positive results we have achieved through our focus on fish welfare, fish health and the environmentally adapted placement and operation of fish farms. The industry itself and the authorities take the challenges that remain seriously. As far as fish escaping from installations is concerned, it is my view that each escapee is one too many. In recent years we have put into place a number of measures for reducing the amount of escaped fish in Norwegian aquaculture. Our objective is to make sure that the escape of fish does not cause any risk to wild salmon or other marine species.
Norwegian seafood export amounted to NOK 35.6 billion in 2006. Ninety percent of annual production is for export. Therefore, market access for Norwegian fish is vital for our fisheries and aquaculture industry. It is the responsibility of the Norwegian authorities to ensure that the industry has good access to all of the main markets. I would like to make certain that consumers in our markets prefer Norwegian seafood because of its high quality and that it has been harvested in a sustainable way. The ability to trace fish is therefore essential for keeping illegally caught fish out of the market. Such labelling is demanded for in a market with steadily greater spending power. The Norwegian fisheries industry’s reputation will determine what the consumer buys for dinner.
The value creation of our national fishing resources will benefit coastal communities that are dependent on fishing. As a link in this process, the government is working on a strategy for increasing Norway’s export of processed fish based on fresh raw materials. In this way Norway can make good use of the advantage we have with our proximity to both the resources and the high-spending markets in Europe. An initiative of this type implies a need for developing new products in which we manage to make use of larger parts of the fish. We will also continue to assist the development of new products and marine technology in aquaculture through increasing research efforts and strengthening the marine value chain programme. Within a period of five to ten years the increased added value of seafood by-products in Norway can come to more than NOK 5 billion – in other words, more than the present export of fillet products.
Norway’s future lies in the development and preservation of value in the marine sector. Therefore, Norway stands for a responsible, user-oriented and ecosystem-based management of the sea.
The Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs