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Historical archive

”Political goals and challenges”

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs

State Secretary Hugo Bjørnstads speach - FHLs Second International Marine Ingredience Conference, Holmenkollen Park Hotell, Oslo 23. september 2013

State Secretary Hugo Bjørnstads speach - FHLs Second International Marine Ingredience Conference, Holmenkollen Park Hotell, Oslo 23. september 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends from abroad

I am very happy to see such a gathering of dedicated people from business, science and public administration coming together to explore how knowledge, research, investment, regulations and wise policies can create a better development and a better future – for people, for society, for industry and indeed for the world at large.

I offer my sincere congratulations to the organisers of the second marine ingredients conference. Thank you for lifting bio marine development to the centre stage, a place where the bio marine industry indeed belongs.

The world faces great challenges today. A growing population needs more food, products and energy. Both the EU and the OECD point out the importance of increased utilisation of renewable biological resources to solve these important challenges.

In Norway, several studies and reports underline the potential of our seas and oceans in supplying more food and products from renewable resources. Norway may be called a blue nation. For instance, the total Nordic sea area is larger than the continent of Europe. These waters are amongst the most productive on earth. Last year a group of scientists estimated that the value creation from our seafood and bio marine industry could be increased six times from today’s level - by 2050. This growth will depend on certain factors, like sustainability, healthy oceans, knowledge, innovation and market access, to mention some. 

Anyway, if we manage our seas and oceans sustainably, it represents an opportunity for our economies, our businesses and for our communities. As the former Secretary General to the UN Kofi Annan said in his opening speech at the Seafood Exhibition in Stavanger last year: My knowledge of aquaculture is quite small, but I do know a lot about hunger.

In my opinion marine-oriented nations have a special responsibility to facilitate such a development. In Norway the Government launched a white paper on the seafood sector this spring. The white paper clearly points out that the seafood industry is more than food. Today we’re experiencing a growth in new bio marine industries, based on by-products from our seafood industry as well as utilisation of new resources.  The white paper points to the needs and possibilities for further growth – both in the seafood industry and the bio marine industry.

To facility such a growth the Norwegian Government’s policy rests on three pillars:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Profitability
  3. Knowledge

If I should point out one of them, I would say that knowledge is the most important.

Let me elaborate on these three factors a bit further.

 

First, sustainability.
The world’s seas and oceans play a major role for business, transport, as well as health creation and well-being worldwide. Sustainable use and development depends on sustainable management regimes in many different sectors and countries, and we need wise regulations and legal instruments to secure the productivity of the seas and oceans. Climatic change and pollution are making the matter more urgent. The importance and role of healthy oceans in providing food for a growing population was also highlighted in the UN Declaration “The Future We Want” in Rio de Janeiro last year. For Norway, it is vital to play an active role in the international arena when global agreements and instruments concerning our living resources, their use and pollution are negotiated.
Sustainability is a prerequisite for further growth!  It is also crucial that the industry is involved in these important questions. The very foundation of the bio marine industry in Norway was indeed sustainable, as the marine resources which were utilised were seen as waste. In that regard the industry is strengthening the marine sector as a whole in a sustainable way.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges ahead. Further development of the bio marine industry depends on sustainable management regimes, locally, regionally and internationally. Today, our national policy on seafood management is based on scientific advice.

Over time and following a number of mistakes, our national policy on fisheries and aquaculture management has been changed and improved, based on what we have learnt. A part of the bio marine industry uses new resources and develops new production methods. This creates a need for more knowledge and new management regimes - which will take time to develop. This is especially true of areas with a potential conflict with other users or which might pose a threat to marine ecosystems. I would like to stress the importance of building knowledge and facilitating sustainable development.

We must also remember that the concept of sustainability encompasses more than concern for the environment. Social and economic aspects must also be taken into consideration. This brings me to the need for Profitability
The bio marine industry is growing worldwide. In Norway, it is among our fastest growing sectors. Profitability is vital for further development in the bio marine industry.

Framework conditions and access to the markets are important aspects in that regard. Bio marine products compete in global markets, and consumers are not necessarily concerned with which country their marine oils come from. They are, however, concerned with food safety, sustainable production and documentation. Clear answers to these questions are important to build products the consumers want. This again will support a development where the consumers choose sustainable bio marine products instead of alternative products. Again, in order to succeed, broad international cooperation is necessary. Cooperation in research, regulations and industrial development.

Further growth in bio marine production will not least be determined by market developments. It takes time to develop new products. It takes time to establish new products in the market. Even if the product is superior, it still needs to meet requirements of quality, volume and documentation, to mention some. This might be challenging for small companies. That is why my Government the last seven years has allocated money to a Marine Value Creation Programme, which stimulates and facilitates cooperation and knowledge in the whole value chain. The goal is to strengthen the marine sector’s innovative capacity and competitive strength.

I believe international cooperation between nations, researchers and companies is necessary to further develop the industry and market opportunities.

What role can the Government play to help the industry? In Norway the Government plays an important role in supporting research and development. Regulations and market access is another important area, where different regulations and the lack of standards are a challenge for the bio marine industry. The Seafood White Paper states the importance to work for full market access both for seafood and new bio marine products. It is important that seafood nations have these issues high on their agenda.

As I have mentioned, I believe further knowledge building is the most essential requirement for further development.

Value creation based on our seas and oceans plays a major role in Norway’s economy. When abroad, I’m frequently asked questions about our seafood, oil and maritime sectors. Norway is also a big exporter of products, knowledge and technology from these sectors. In these areas we cooperate with the best researchers and technology developers internationally. The Norwegian Government’s ambition for our marine industry is also that Norway should be known and characterised by its internationally leading clusters, based on high-quality research and competence along the entire value chain.

We need knowledge in order to further develop the management regimes of our seas and oceans, to secure food safety and to ensure an environmentally sustainable development.

A key concept in the Seafood White Paper is the need for knowledge. As a follow-up, we launched an action plan this month, which highlights the potential that exists for increased marine value creation through knowledge-based utilisation of marine resources. Through this action plan the Norwegian Government is calling for proactive attention towards knowledge building in the marine sector for the years to come. The Government in Norway will therefore strengthen both research and competence building in the marine sector.

Several sectors in Norway are experiencing tough competition in recruiting skilled workers. In this context it is important that the bio marine industry is perceived as an attractive place to work. As a former principal of a high school, I can hardly stress the importance of skilled and dedicated workers enough. In my opinion the industry has many assets which should be attractive for young people today: The industry is international. The industry utilises renewable resources. The industry pushes new frontiers based on the most advanced research, knowledge and technology. The Government in Norway already spends a lot of resources on education. In the action plan we launch different initiatives and projects aiming at strengthening the recruitment of skilled workers to the marine sector. In my opinion, the bio marine industry has much to gain in putting this issue high on the agenda.

We still have a lot to learn about our oceans and the sustainable use of ocean life. I strongly believe that the seas and oceans contain a rich source of renewable resources which is still unexploited. The action plan is not least intended to build research-based knowledge. To achieve this we will:

  •  strengthen public-sector funding of marine research
  • strengthen research funding for industry
  • strengthen international alliances for marine research

Marine research is resource-intensive, so international cooperation on infrastructure and competence building is vital. It is our experience that international cooperation increases the quality of research. International collaboration also strengthens the economic foundation needed to carry out the projects. It is impossible for one nation alone to develop all the necessary knowledge in these fields.

For this reason, Norway, together with Belgium and Spain, took the initiative to establish a joint programme for marine research, a so-called Joint Programming Initiative. We are very pleased that the EU Commission is supporting the JPI Oceans marine research programme. This means that the EU Commission has asked a total of 18 countries that wish to be part of this initiative to develop a joint platform for the sustainable use of marine resources and technological development. This brings us a big step forward in our efforts to highlight the importance of greater knowledge of the world’s oceans. Nations, researchers and companies need to cooperate, and share results for the benefit of all of us. Knowledge and understanding belong to the few things that will increase if shared.

Governments and industry have different roles and responsibilities - at the same time we depend on each other to succeed.  When it comes to building knowledge and financing research we have a long history of cooperation between public and private money. Norway has succeeded in building a modern aquaculture industry in recent years. The good  cooperation between the aquaculture industry, the authorities and the research communities is said to be one reason for this successful development. I believe this type of cooperation is important also for the bio marine industry.

Technological advances are instrumental in developing new products as well as solving environmental challenges. A great many promising advances are in progress in this field already. Ideas which have the potential to produce innovative solutions for the bio marine industry of the future. The Government has been advised to facilitate cooperation between the different blue sectors: the marine, maritime and offshore sectors - to stimulate further development. The ministries responsible for these three sectors are now working together to find out how we can facilitate such cooperation and development.

Closing remark
The need for knowledge building, sustainability and profitability has been the focus of my address. The bio marine industry is in a very favourable situation. The special quality we find in marine oils and proteins creates huge needs. The world is asking for more healthy food, feed and other products. Given a platform built on knowledge and sustainability, both environmental and economic, I am sure that the bio marine industry will prosper in the years to come.

As stated in the white paper, Norway is keen to learn from the experiences of others. We also hope that our own experiences can help other seafood countries to develop their bio marine industry. A useful platform might be to establish a common understanding of the challenges and opportunities for further growth. A conference like this provides a valuable arena for dialogue between researchers, technology developers, producers and regulators.

I sincerely hope the conference will provide inspiration and encourage productive networking.
Thank you for your attention.

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