Perspectives for Fishmeal and Fish Oil

Opening remarks Symposium in Hirtshals

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak here today!

Thank you to the organizers for making a comprehensive and inspiring program!

I have been specifically asked to talk about by-products, also referred to as trimmings and cut-offs, from the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture. But I will also touch upon other relevant issues.

My main points today are:

  • Our ambition is growth in the marine sector.
  • All by-products from our fisheries and aquaculture must be utilized. The proper commercial incentives must be in place to support this
  • More by-products must be channelled into the food and feed chains
  • We must utilize new raw materials for feed to manage growth in our aquaculture. Public and private funding of research is essential.

The forage fishing fleet and the fishmeal processors play an important role in securing jobs in coastal communities.

Fishmeal and fish oil have many uses: from feed to high-value health products.

Traditional forage fisheries will continue to play an important role, however, catching significantly more traditional forage fish in a sustainable way will be a challenge. However, one might argue that we should ensure that more of this valuable resource enters the food chain,  rather than ending up in pet-food or similar products.

Catching other marine species has become commercially interesting for various sectors.

As an example, technological development has made it possible to catch and process Antarctic krill. Norway is today the biggest harvester of krill in the Antarctic ocean. And krill ends up as meal and oil for feed, but also health products for us.

In addition, important research continues on the possible use of other marine species, such as mesopelagic species,. As an example, we are considering to open up for commercial catch of the zooplankton Calanus finmarchicus (raudåte)in our own waters.

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As politicians, our aim is to create a framework for the private sector which stimulates investments and creates new jobs.

My government has allocated more than 250 million Euros to marine research and development in 2016. What’s more, the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund is fully financed by a levy of 0,3 % on exports of all seafood.

This year, as well as the two previous years, Norway has allocated a historically large sum to research and innovation. In 2016 this amounts to 1.1 percent of our GDP.

When it comes to blue growth, close cooperation with other Nordic and European countries in research and innovation is highly important.

Our oceans are complex and global.  A broad and integrated scientific approach is necessary. Only together can we build the knowledge we need.  

It is also our responsibility to develop policies and make a regulatory framework that work well for our society at large. But also work well for the private sector. 

In Norway, we have national legislation, such as the Marine Resources Act, through which we have an obligation to secure sustainable use of our marine resources. Harvesting must be knowledge based and we are dependent on international collaboration to secure sustainable use. 

As you know, fisheries is not part of the EEA agreement, but legislation on all processed marine raw materials is. Norway must adhere to EU regulatory requirements on by-products, food and feed safety, traceability and labelling of products. Some of it is rigorous and challenging. And the legislation is under constant development and new interpretation. Technological development makes it possible to utilize raw materials and by-products in new ways. Legislation must take account of this. 

Thus, for Norway it is important to continue to be active at the EU-level. Especially when it comes to marine products, which is so important for our export. 

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The marine sector has always been an important source of income and welfare for Norway.  And it still is today. This year Norway has already exported seafood to the value of 5 billion Euros. This is an increase of 25 percent from the same period last year – and 2015 was actually an all-time high for Norwegian seafood exports!

Norwegian scientists have forecasted that the Norwegian marine sector has the potential to grow to 60 billion Euros in 2050.

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By-products from the Norwegian fisheries and fish farming are generated when the fish is gutted, headed and further processed. It also includes fish rejected from processing.

The overall by-product volume from fish and shellfish in Norway is nearly 900,000 tons. Out of this about 76 percent are utilized. 100 percent of the by-products from the pelagic sector are used, but only 48 percent from the white fish sector. And all by-products from aquaculture are used, except for blood water.

A significant part of the by-products become ensiled. This fish silage is further processed and refined and used in food and feed. It has also become very popular in pet-food.

It should also be mentioned that the fish farmers are required by law to collect dead fish, grind and ensile it. However, this fish silage is of course not fit for food or feed. But it can be used for production of bioenergy and as raw material for fertilizers and soil improvement products.    

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If we go 30 years back, by-products where  largely perceived as an environmental problem. Since then the industry, supported by the government, has invested in research and innovation, resulting in commercially profitable products. In this respect the foundation RUBIN was important. It was established back in 1991. ‘Develop the use of by-products’ was its mission. Fisheries, industry and the aquaculture sector were the "owners" of the foundation. RUBIN was partly financed by our Ministry. The foundation was laid down in 2012, but their work is continued by the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund.

As we can see in the industry today, there have been remarkable efforts to utilize the by-products. Many fishing vessels have equipment on board to preserve by-products. There are established facilities for processing along the coast. And the largest aquaculture operators have advanced and closed facilities in order to preserve and refine the raw material to flour and oil. More affordable equipment for the preservation of by-products on smaller fishing vessels is on its way.

How do we make sure by-products from our fisheries and aquaculture can contribute to the marine growth?

The use of by-products was discussed in my government's White paper to the Parliament in 2015 on the seafood industry. It states that all catches and by-products should be brought ashore.

The White paper also said that profitability is a key factor in order to further increase the preservation and utilization of by-products. Research and innovation can contribute here. The use as raw materialsfor healthy food ingredients, food supplements, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics can multiply the value.

The government also works on a strategy for by-products and incentive schemes to ensure that all raw materials are landed. This work must be considered in conjunction with the ongoing development of a bio-economy strategy that we plan to present this autumn.

In this respect, a few words on bycatch is relevant. Bycatch is not considered a big problem in Norway. Most of the fisheries are selective, catching specific species. Some are mixed fisheries of more species.

An example is mixed catching of cod, haddock and saithe, which are all of commercial interest. A general landing obligation was introduced in 2009, which implies that all dying catches should be landed . This will ensure that fish of little commercial value is utilized.  

Now I move on to the Norwegian aquaculture.

We want to see growth in aquaculture. Last year my government presented a White Paper to the Norwegian Parliament. The paper proposes a whole new regulatory system for predictable and sustainable growth in the salmon- and trout farming industry. Research and development of new technology has been and will be key to managing growth.

But we also need more fish feed. In this respect, by-products from our wild fisheries have become a significant source for feed for salmonids.

In the beginning fishmeal and fish oil were the major ingredients in fish feed. But the big growth we have seen in aquaculture has made it necessary to make use of other sources to make affordable fish feed. Vegetable raw materials now account for 70 per cent of the feed, primarily protein from soya and corn and vegetable oils. But with a growing world population which will need food, the availability of these ingredients may be less in the future. So, we must look for other sources, too. Research will play a crucial role here.

And I will give you some examples of important ongoing research:

One project tries to make feed from fly larvae that has been fed with household waste or seaweed.  Successful feeding trials have been carried out. Adding to this, our Ministry has currently granted licenses for aquaculture of seaweed for 18 different companies on 27 sites along the coast.

Another project aims at producing fish feed from trees. Through thermo-chemical processes and use of enzymes you get a substrate that can be used for production of yeasts as a protein source. There are already commercial interests looking at this!

By-products from meat production are also in focus as a possible fish feed source. It is possible to make processed animal proteins for fish feed from the parts of the animal that do not end up on our tables.

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude:

  • It is our ambition to contribute to growth in the marine sector.
  • All by-products from our fisheries and aquaculture must be utilized. The proper commercial incentives must be in place
  • We must utilize new raw materials for feed to manage growth in our aquaculture. Public and private funding of research is essential.
  • Our national as well as the EU regulatory framework must not stand in the way of development of the marine- and aquaculture sectors and their products.

•  Regarding application for licenses to farm new species: The process must not be too long and create commercial uncertainty. In this respect I feel that we have succeeded with a ‘one- stop- shop’ approach.

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I will be here for the whole symposium and I am looking forward to listening to the wide range of important and inspiring topics with you!   

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Thank you for your attention!