It would be fair to say that the
Norwegian fishing industry has never really had an image problem. When you
think of Norway you think of clear, blue sea, clean air and sustainable
For the most part, the majority
of the above is very much a reality. Norway has come a long way very quickly
with its fishing sector. The reason for this is the country’s ability to focus
on what is important. Strong ecosystems and fish stocks, constant attention to
sustainable fishing and good resource management, as well as safe and healthy
seafood, are the main principles on which it has built such a strong and
Fisheries Minister, Elisabeth
Aspaker has recently called for the industry to prioritise more funding for
research. “A seafood industry which is located in high-cost countries, such as
Norway, is entirely dependent on research and innovation in order to survive
and grow. Therefore, it is important for the Norwegian government to prepare a
master plan for marine research,” she said.
The master plan Ms Aspaker speaks
off will build on the Norwegian government’s long-term plan for research, with
the marine industries as a focus. “We have to advance our prioritisations of
research funding, and ensure that research culminates in innovation and
economic development. Whether the research is about modernising the traditional
fishing industry, developing a sustainable aquaculture, or developing entirely
new industries based on marine raw materials, we want to see innovation and
development,” she added.
Norway funds marine research with
NOK3.2bn every year, of which NOK2bn comes directly from the government.
“Norway needs to build new knowledge-based industries. The marine sector is
identified as an industry where Norway can be a leading authority with a
potential for increased value creation. Research and development will be
essential in order to develop this potential,” said Ms Aspaker.
Norway’s latest plan will form
the basis for its priorities in aquaculture research, resource and ecosystem
research and research that can form the basis of new, emerging marine
industries in the future.
Norway is also keen to do
whatever it can to protect its waters from illegal and unregulated fishing. Norway
has lead the way in starting a new international cooperation against financial
crime in the fisheries sector, and the North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence
Group was recently founded in Oslo.
Norway, Great Britain, Germany,
Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark and Iceland participate in the working group,
which will strive to uncover economic crime in the fishing industry. Under the
North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence Group, authorities within fisheries,
customs and tax will work together to strengthen the information exchange on
everything from illegal flow of capital to social dumping within the fishing
“To combat illegal and
unregulated fishing one must look at the entire chain of industry. The aim is
to bring the perpetrators to justice - not just their boats. To become more
effective, we must work across both agencies and borders,” said Ms Aspaker.
The country has also taken a
strong stance on discards. As long ago as 1987, long before the recent EU
decision on discards and the revised Common Fisheries Policy, Norway was one of the first countries in
Europe to implement a ban on discards and there has been a huge investment in
resources and effort to adjust the fishing practices of Norwegian vessels as a
“The foundation for this policy
is quite simply that throwing dead fish over board doesn’t make sense. It is a
waste of valuable resources, and undermines the need for precise information
about catch levels,” said Ms Aspaker in a speech last year.
“Let me underline
that a ban on discards alone is not enough. It has to be part of a larger
policy mix where regulations are aimed at the fishing operation itself. We have
set limits on bycatches and intermixture of juveniles, and a requirement to
change fishing ground if the set limits are exceeded. In the Barents Sea we
have since 1984, had a system of real time closure of fishing grounds in place.
Also some juvenile areas are closed permanently in addition to seasonal
closures,” she added.
Other measures that
have been implemented include minimum mesh sizes in nets and mandatory use of
selective gear technology. The main objective here is to promote a harvest pattern where
recruits and undersized fish are protected, and where unwanted bycatch is
All this hard work is paying off
for Norway. Last year, for the second year in a row, Norway seafood exports
increased, with over NOK68.8bn worth exported during the year, an increase of
12% on 2013 figures. The main market for these exports is Europe, where trade
increased by 16% in 2014, worth NOK43bn. Norwegian salmon remains robust and is
able to defend its price level in the market.
Norway exported salmon and trout
for NOK46.2bn in 2014. The average price achieved for fresh whole salmon was NOK41.06
per kg, a gain of 3.4% on 2013 prices.
Meanwhile, Norway exported
codfish worth NOK12bn in 2014, up by 20%; its volume of Norwegian exports of
groundfish was up 3% on 2013; and exported clipfish was worth NOK3.7bn, up 19%
on 2013 setting a new record for clipfish exports.
Norway exported salmon worth NOK3.3bn in
February 2015, representing an increase of 2% or NOK80m year-on-year, according
to figures from the Norwegian Seafood Council. Approximately 73,250 tonnes of
salmon were exported from Norway in February. This represents an increase of
11% compared to February 2014.
“While we are seeing strong growth in salmon
exports to the EU, Asia is also growing strongly. The growth in volume combined
with the loss of the Russian market is the main reason for the price drop we’ve
seen so far in 2015”, said Paul Aandahl, branch manager for salmon at the
Norwegian Seafood Council.
But the country is not relying on past
success. According to the Norwegian Seafood Council, although Norway currently
doesn’t have a trade agreement with India, there is potential for one in the
One agreement that hasn’t always been simple but seems to work most of the time
is Norway’s relationship with the EU. Despite not being a member of the EU,
Norway has enjoyed the benefits of a very low tariff on export of whole salmon
and also many types of fish products through an EEA agreement.
But in the past Norway has been
accused of dumping, causing minimum prices and quota issues. There have also
been occasional preventive interventions against Norway’s fishery by EU
authorities in EU territorial waters. Norwegian fishermen were banned by EU
coast guards from fishing mackerel in EU territorial waters in November 2009,
which caused financial damage to Norway’s fishing industry.
Another important joint cooperation between
Norway and the EU, which is based on an on-going annual agreement, is the focus
on the reduction of discards. The objective is to reduce and finally eradicate
discards. Today, a discard ban policy is enforced in the fishing ground in
North Sea and Barents Sea through implementation of RTC (Real Time Closure)
system. In an RTC system, a sample area of fishing ground is investigated in
order to understand if there is high abundance of one species or not.
According to a trilateral agreement among
Norway, Denmark and Sweden, Norway is authorised to have fishing operations in
the Skagerrak and Kattegat waters. In general, the agreement among these
countries allows them to have fishery operations up to four nautical miles from
the sea boundary in the area.
Apart from its cooperation with EU countries,
Norway has a good cooperation with Russia on fishing operations. They share the
stocks of cod, haddock and capelin in the Barents Sea. Norway and the EU do not
give quotas to a third country before consulting on mutual stocks. Quotas to a
third country are a subject to the discussion between Norway and the third
country based on Norway’s quota.
There has also been much success in the fish farming sector in Norway, which
has grown significantly over the last decade. The farming of salmon and rainbow
trout is now taking place on over 160 sites all along the Norwegian coast.
Aquculture production has now reached over 1.4 million tonnes a year, of which
over 99% is salmon and trout and the value is NOK32.3bn.
But with success comes a range of challenges.
There have been environmental concerns over sea lice and escaped fish. However,
Norway is introducing new rules that will ensure that fish farmers pay for the
recapturing efforts of fish that have escaped from farms, including in cases
where the fish's owners are not known. This
is a first in Norway - under current regulations, farms are only required to
finance recapturing efforts if they are identified as the source of the escape.
This will be done through a new independent
association, which all fish farms will be required to join. Farms that mark
their fish will be exempt from membership fees.
Under the new system, government
authorities will be responsible for monitoring escaped farmed salmon in rivers.
Fisheries authorities in cooperation with environmental authorities will be
responsible for determining which rivers shall be monitored from year to year.
It is this monitoring that shall be applied when the number of escaped fish in
the rivers are estimated.
account for 95% of the total Norwegian aquaculture production, which ends up in
more than 130 different countries. The EU is by far the most important market,
the largest volumes going to Denmark and France. The fastest growth in export
volume is now seen in the Russian market and other east European countries.
Japan and Russia import the largest volume of trout.
Norway - the facts
A long coastline with wide sea beds and numerous fjords help Norway make benefit of the sea. The fishing industry is the third largest export sector in Norway after oil/gas and metals, and it has 0.4% share of GDP. It also accounts for 4.6 % of the total Norwegian export value. The fishing industry in Norway includes traditional fishing, fish farming and processing of all kinds of seafood at onshore facilities. The traditional fishing method is still in use, while at the same time new technologies and modern methods have been introduced.
According to the FAO, Norway has a highly decentralised port structure, with landing sites for fish in many ports along the coast. These range from small fish landing sites to large industrial ports. The many landing sites and ports along the coast require large resources in terms of management, administration, maintenance and development. The Coastal Authority (Kystverket) is responsible for the development and maintenance of some 800 public fishing ports.
Most of the landings are in the western counties and the three northernmost counties. The most important fishing county in terms of volume is Møre and Romsdal, followed by Sogn og Fjordanene and two of the northernmost counties, Nordland and Troms. This has to do with the proximity to fishing grounds, although a number of vessels registered in western counties are also very active in the Barents Sea.