Every day throughout the year, 27 million meals of excellent and healthy Norwegian seafood are served all over the world. The Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industry is currently one of the world’s largest exporters of seafood. The figures show that both the volumes and the economic value of Norway’s seafood exports are rising. This makes us proud. At the same time, we are humble – humble in the sense that there are important challenges to the harvesting and production of seafood in the context of sustainability.
More than 200 different species of fish and shellfish inhabit Norway’s coastal waters. In addition to this, Norway is a pioneering nation in developing modern aquaculture. The Norwegian government as well as the industry is fully aware that future growth in seafood exports depends upon responsible fisheries as well as sustainable fishing and aquaculture production.
Norwegian resource management reflects the best scientific advice available, taking into account the principle of the precautionary approach. Responsible fisheries also mean that we must make sure that the fish is legally caught. The Norwegian Government has a strong focus on fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries (IUU) and I am very pleased that non-governmental organisations, the market and the fishing industry itself have taken part in this struggle. Norway has prioritized the immediate problem of IUU fishing of cod in the Barents Sea for a number of years. We have worked – and will continue to work – both at national, bilateral and global levels to increase transparency and co-ordination in order to enhance our efforts.
Monitoring of IUU fishing is, by its very nature, extremely difficult. However, the Directorate of Fisheries has developed methods that give us a clear picture of the trends in fishing in the Barents Sea. This shows that overfishing of cod in 2005 amounted to around 100,000 tonnes. By 2007, the figure was assumed to be 40,000 tonnes. To make a long story short, we have achieved better progress since 2005 than we could possibly imagine
Ensuring 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 environmentally adapted location and operation of fish farms. In recent years we have also put into place a number of measures that will help us reduce escapes from fish farms. This has required serious attention and we are working hard to resolve this problem.
It is clear that consumers’ expectations and demands have become a legitimate factor in international food trade. We see an increased environmental consciousness and awareness of the importance of sustainability, both within the industry and amongst consumers. We also experience an increased focus on the health benefits of seafood, as a number of scientific studies have drawn attention to the potential health benefits from eating seafood regularly. Many countries are addressing lifestyle diseases and consumers and governments are increasingly aware of the link between diet and health.
In addition to the health benefits of eating seafood and the importance of sustainable production and harvesting, I believe the standing of seafood in the world must be attributed to the excellent taste of high quality seafood. In this sense, I am very proud that Norway will host the culinary event of Bocuse d’Or Europe in Stavanger this summer. I am also proud that Norwegian salmon has been chosen as one of two main ingredients for the competition. Norway has for a long time been important in connection with Bocuse d’Or, not only as supplier of Norwegian seafood in the competitions, but also from a culinary standpoint. The first European part final in Bocuse d’Or provides a unique opportunity to promote Norwegian salmon and lamb, Norwegian gastronomic expertise and Norway as a travelling destination. I welcome the competitors and all other visitors to Bocuse d’Or Europe in Stavanger and hope you will enjoy real Norwegian seafood craftsmanship.