Sustainable and safe seafood from Norway

Innlegg på klippfiskseminar i Lisboa, 22.januar 2014

Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear Minister Cristas!

 I am delighted to be visiting Lisbon again.

I first visited Lisbon in December 2013 when the Minister and I signed a Memorandom of Understanding to guarantee the Portuguese consumer a continued supply of phosphate-free Norwegian bacalhau.

As national seafood authorities in Norway and Portugal we enjoy a strong cooperation:

  • to continue Norway’s 200 year history as the main provider for bacalhau to Portugal.
  • and to ensure that consumers and producers in Portugal get the products they want

We are well aware that today no one eats more Norwegian bacalhau than the Portuguese.


Actually, the statistics show that Portugal is one of the biggest seafood consuming countries in Europe, measured per capita.

  • You eat even more fish than we do in Norway!

 So it makes sense that

  • Measured in value, 70 % of all commodity export from Norway to Portugal consists of seafood.
  • And that 30 % of all Norwegian cod goes to Portugal!

Additionally, in 2014 we have seen a significant increase in the consumption of Norwegian salmon in the Portuguese market.

Norwegian salmon is the strongest global brand in our seafood exports. And the salmon seems to find new markets for export when old markets become unavailable, as we have seen last year with Russia.  

Well, I will leave it to Mr Christian Nordahl, the Norwegian Seafood Council’s country director, to tell you all about the trends of Norwegian seafood in Portugal later this afternoon.

In my speech, I would like to give you a short account of:

  • Norwegian fisheries management
  • The importance of safe seafood
  • and share a few insights into what the Norwegian government considers the main opportunities and challenges for the future



We have just finished celebrating the 200 year anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution form 1814.


This constitution laid the very foundations of democratic development in Norway.


We have celebrated a nation built on the idea of popular sovereignty, distribution of power and citizens' rights. But also a nation built on the use of our vast natural resources.


The ocean has been our main provider of resources. It is from the ocean we have obtained the riches that have built Norway as a nation.


The cod was for a long time Norway's most important commodity, and has been a driver in the development of the Norwegian society from the Viking times to the present day.


The picture behind me proves that you don’t have to be a minister of fisheries to think highly of the cod!


  • The central bank of Norway has decided to develop a new banknote series with the ocean as the main theme: Our cod was chosen as the main theme for our 200 kroner banknote, symbolizing the ocean that feeds us. 

Seafood – wild caught and farmed – is of great importance to Norway also today.

  • Norwegian seafood exports reached 7.3 billion euro in 2014, and Norway has never enjoyed a stronger position in the world market.

This is why a sound and sustainable management of the sea and our living marine resources is of such a great importance to my government.


Today Norway’s major commercial stocks are in excellent condition as a result of the three management functions of

  • science
  • regulations
  • and enforcement

The introduction of long-term management plans based on harvest control rules has translated the precautionary principle into concrete action.

Our approach has been clear:

  •  Living marine resources are renewable, not a limitless food bowl.

The concept of sustainable development argues that we must manage our resources to the benefit of future generations.

This very concept is at the centre of Norwegian policy making and influences our approach to fisheries management.

But long-term sustainability requires a commitment to long-term thinking.

Fisheries management is about continuous adaptation to changing conditions. The system is built to deal with change where, the following elements, among others, are of importance: 

  • extensive and continuous research
  • annual establishments of Total Allowable Catches based on scientific advice
  • annual revision of regulations
  • continuous monitoring  through enforcement and control systems

We have proven that, through applying the right management, a declining trend in a fish stock can be reversed from downwards to upwards. Examples form Norwegian waters over the last thirty years are herring and the cod.

An important factor to sustainable management of the North East Atlantic Cod has been the Joint Norwegian Russian Fisheries Commission. Since 1972, quotas from common stocks have been allocated between Norway, Russia and third countries through annual negotiations.

The North East Atlantic Cod is today at a historically high level. The total quota for 2015 is set at 894 000 tonnes!

Why is the cod in the Barents Sea in such a good condition?

I will tell you:

  • We listen to science. Not only when it advices us to increase quotas, but especiallywhen it tells us to reduce the quotas
  • We have succeeded in bringing science forward as the pillar in our fisheries cooperation with Russia
  • We have seen favorable climatic conditions in the Barents Sea, where the fish stocks have had good access to nutrients.
  • And we have had success with combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU-fishing).   

And let me remind you that Portugal was a valuable ally among the EU-countries when Norway in 2007 introduced the principle of port-state control. This measure enabled third parties to control vessels landing Barents Sea cod outside of Norway. It has proven to be a successful measure against IUU-fishing in the Barents Sea, and was later introduced in fisheries management globally.

I would like to say a few words about safe seafood

As a major seafood producer and exporter we depend on meeting international standards for food-safety.

To do so, we have created a comprehensive monitoring system. 

Since 1994, the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) has systematically monitored the safety of seafood. Risk-based analyses and assessments are targeted at fish species to keep contaminants at safe levels.


Over the last three years, additional base-line studies have been conducted on important commercial fish species such as cod and saithe.

In general, Norwegian seafood is safe! The Norwegian Food Safety Authority confirmed in their report from December what we already knew:

  • The health benefits of eating Norwegian seafood by far outweighs the insignificant risks of any adverse effects, given the low levels of contaminants it contains

The thorough quality management is apparent not only in the quality of the products. It is also visible in the self-check system of the seafood producers and traceability at each stage of production, from sea to fork.

  • Norwegian seafood is safe and will continue to be safe!

There are many opportunities as well as challenges ahead for the fisheries globally as well as for the Norwegian seafood industry.

The global seafood market is very dynamic and changing rapidly. It is becoming much more complex and stratified, with greater diversification among species and products.

Competition is hard. So is the pressure on the world’s fish resources..

My Government believes in meeting the future by investing in research and development.

Seafood plays a significant, but not yet fully recognized, role in global food security and nutrition.  Increasing evidence confirms the significant health benefits of eating fish

We will continue to address – and enhance – the role of seafood in world food security, making seafood a valuable contribution to healthy diets.


Ladies and Gentlemen;

Norway and Portugal are two countries closely tied to the ocean.

The ocean is part of our culture and part of the development of our modern societies

It is our past, our present and our future.

If we care for the ocean, the ocean will care for us!


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