Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear Minister Vitorino!
It is an honor for me to be here today as the newly appointed Minister of Fisheries in the Norwegian Government.
I have already had the pleasure of discussing important issues with my new colleague, Minister of Sea, Ana Paula Vitorino.
Former ministers, Mrs. Cristas and Mrs. Aspaker – who is now Norway's Minister of EEA and EU Affairs –, worked hard to improve the cooperation between our two countries.
I wish to endorse this relationship, and I find it very suitable that my first foreign visit as Norway's new minister of fisheries is to Portugal, our most important market for wild caught seafood.
There is a certain distance between Norway and Portugal, not just in territory, but also in language and culture. However, we have one very important friend in common which will forever connect us: The ocean.
As a nation, Norway is rewarded with natural resources for fisheries and fish farming. We manage sea areas six times the size of our land size.
- The Norwegian coastline is 57.000 kilometers long (Store norske leksikon)
- We have about 1 190 fjords in Norway. The Norwegian coastline is considered to have the largest density of fjords in the world.
It is therefore no wonder that Norway is one of the world's largest producers of seafood today. Our seafood exports in 2015 reached 7,6 billion euro (74,5 mrd. NOK). This is an increase of 8,4 percent from 2014.
However, there cannot be production without demand: The Norwegian industry depends on its markets and that consumers globally hold Norwegian seafood products in high regard.
I am therefore extremely fascinated and proud of the importance Norwegian cod has in in Portugal.
This fish has characterized the Norwegian society since the Viking era. Around the 9th century, 80 per cent of our export earnings came from stock fish, and gradually from salted and dried cod.
This explains why the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of Portuguese when they think of Norway is bacalhau. The cod is in fact one of our most famous Norwegian celebrities!
I have heard that Helio Loureiro, the head chef of the Portuguese football team loves the Norwegian clippfish. With its high protein and nutrition value, this might very well be the secret of the great Portuguese football talents.
We live in a world in dramatic change. Whilst our climate is shifting, world population is increasing by the day. By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on Earth. Moreover, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food demand will increase by a staggering 100 percent.
Feeding a growing world population is one of the major challenges facing the global community today.
The oceans represent 70 percent of the world's surface, but less than 5 percent of the global food production derives from the sea. This tells me that there is a huge potential to increase the production of food from the sea.
The UN has repeatedly recognized the significant contribution of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture to food-security; income and wealth; and poverty reduction - for present and future generations.
In fact, we will not succeed in reducing poverty and creating peace - if we do not succeed in eliminating hunger. As a crucial source of protein and other essential nutrients - seafood could play a key role in combating hunger and malnutrition worldwide.
However it is important to realize that the living resources from the sea are renewable, but not limitless. Therefore long-term sustainable use requires a commitment to long-term thinking.
There is an old saying: "If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." I say "If you teach him to harvest and produce fish responsibly, the next generations will have food for eternity ".
But to be able to secure a sustainable growth there are some criteria's that need to be met.
The first is to implement better fisheries management.
This very concept is at the center of Norwegian policymaking and influences our approach to fisheries management.
Good fisheries management is about always adapting to changing conditions. About balancing environmental, social and economic concerns.
Taking measures against illegal fishing is also part of good fisheries management.
Illegal fishing is not only a threat to fisheries and the environment. It also provides basis for a black economy including tax and customs fraud, embezzlement, organized crime, human trafficking and corruption.
Secondly, we have to waste less.
Around 8 per cent of all catches of fish are discarded every year – mainly in industrialized countries.
We need to make use of the whole fish in order for the industry to become more profitable.
In Norway, it was made illegal to throw fish overboard already in 1987. I would of course encourage all countries to implement such a ban.
New technology and knowledge also allows for a constant advancement in processing the parts of the fish considered as waste, making new products possible.
Last but not least, we must have research and development on top of the agenda.
We need to invest in science and research to increase our knowledge of the possibilities the seas and oceans provide, and at the same time secure the management of them in a sustainable way.
The Norwegian government has therefore made the ocean one of six longterm priorities in the Governments plan for research and education for the next eight years.
Seas and Oceans are of great importance for both Norway and Portugal and I am pleased to know that there is a good cooperation between our two countries in ocean related research.
With the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Oslo last year, this cooperation was taken a step further.
But let's go to the basics: fish is food.
Fish is a renewable resource that serves a purpose of feeding people and securing livelihoods.
Fish is the most important source of protein for people in developing countries, where you find communities that depend entirely on fish as part of their daily diets.
Fish is healthy.
It is the major source of long-chain omega-3 fats, rich in vitamin D and selenium, high in protein, and low in saturated fat.
Eating fish is good for the heart, the blood vessels – and even for the brain!
Seeing that the Portuguese have one of the highest levels of seafood consumption per capita in the World, I am sure the Portuguese must also be among the healthiest people on Earth.
Fish is safe.
Norway, as a major seafood producer and exporter depends on meeting international standards for food-safety. To do so, we have created a necessary monitoring system.
Since 1994, the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) has monitored the safety of seafood. Risk-based analyses are conducted regularly.
The quality management can be sees not only in the quality of the products. It is also visible in the traceable system at each stage of production, from sea to fork.
Norwegian seafood is safe and will continue to be safe!
Finding ways of maximizing a sustainable blue growth cannot be resolved on a national level alone, but only through international cooperation.
Development of international regulations regarding the oceans is important to promote increased economic activity. I am glad Portugal is our ally in this work.
It is my view that the sea will potentially have an even greater role to play for our countries future economy.
In Norway we will continue to address the role of seafood in world food security, making seafood a valuable contribution to healthy diets.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
The world is facing overwhelming challenges.
In my short time as a minister of fisheries I have become aware of the great opportunities that seafood brings and that it must play a central role in safeguarding our future. Fish and seafood represent viable solutions to the global challenge of food shortage.
But only if managed properly!
Therefore it is our responsibility to make sure that these opportunities are harvested in the best possible way – for the oceans – and for future generations.
I really look forward to learning much during this seminar about fisheries and its endless possibilities in the near future.
But I have already understood the fundamentals:
If we care for the ocean, the ocean will care for us!
Muito obrigado pela atenção [Mojto obrigado pela atensao]
 ”Tusen takk for oppmerksomheten”