The Norwegian seafood industry has seen substantial growth in exports over the years, and 2010 was no exception. Exports of fish and seafood reached a record-breaking NOK 53.7 billion last year – a 20.5 % increase from 2009. Of this, exports of farmed salmon amounted to NOK 31.4 billion – also a record-breaking level. The Norwegian seafood industry has yet again proven to be a success.
Success, however, can sometimes be an obstacle to progress. When everyone makes money, improvement in performance is not a prerequisite for survival. Norway is at the forefront in developing modern, efficient and sustainable seafood production. But there is always more that can be done. This is why programmes for further business development, such as those administered by Innovation Norway, are of vital importance to the industry.
One group of challenges shared by the aquaculture industry and the fishing fleet relates to logistics. Most seafood consumers are located far away from where the marine products are bred or caught. Therefore seamless and efficient logistics is crucial to a modern seafood industry that provides seafood for the world market. As consumers become increasingly demanding and transportation gets more complex, fresh products in particular require constant rethinking of how to maintain product quality throughout the transport chain.
Another shared challenge is how to develop new markets as modern methods of transportation render geographic distance less relevant. How do we get species from our waters onto dinner plates in countries far away? One inspiring story is about how fresh Norwegian salmon arrived in Japan. Several milestones have been surpassed since a group of Norwegians went to Japan in the mid-1980s and presented Norwegian salmon to sushi-loving Japanese consumers. In less than 30 years, fresh salmon has become a very natural part of practically all sushi meals in Japan. In the wake of red salmon, could other species make their way onto the sushi plate?
Growth in the production and export of seafood brings with it increased responsibilities. I note with appreciation that sustainability has become a keyword in most deliberations on improved fisheries and aquaculture management worldwide. Yet in spite of efforts and initiatives towardssustainability, many challenges have been presented over the years. There is, however, good news to report: Scientists have confirmed that stocks of wild cod in the North Sea are on the increase. I am confident that similar upbeat assessments of the outlook for other species will be made in the near future, as we proceed with further international cooperation in the field of sustainable fisheries management.
The issue before you offers interesting reading on a number of themes concerning Norwegian seafood, ranging from logistics to sustainability. I wish you pleasant and enjoyable reading!
The Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs