Tale på Danske Bank seafood seminar

The government`s strategy for sustainable growth

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Good morning everyone,

It is great for me to be here again, at Danske Bank`s seafood seminar.

Last year, I was quite new as minister of Fisheries.

Much has happened since then.

  • I have become very impressed by the Norwegian seafood industry
  • I have travelled a lot – both in Norway and to many countries (Italy, Russia, Brazil, Chile, Iran, China etc.)
  • Norwegian technology moves onwards and upwards, both equipment and services in the aquaculture sector.
  • We see how technology from offshore oil and gas and maritime sector are being used in the seafood sector.

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The history of Norway is in many ways the story about a nation built on fisheries.

  • We manage an ocean area six times larger than our land area.
  • We have some of the world's richest fishing resources.
  • We have excellent conditions for sea-based aquaculture, with sheltered fjords and cold, clear waters.

This has made us a leading seafood nation:

Norway is the second largest seafood exporter in the world, after China. If you compare the number of people living in these two countries, this is not bad!

Norwegian seafood is exported to about 140 countries worldwide. Every single day, the whole year around, Norway exports 34 million meals.

And we do not intend to stop there.

Over the last few decades, we have grown to become the largest producer of farmed salmon in the world. Last year, we exported salmon and trout for a record high 65 billion Norwegian kroner.

Along with this, we have world-leading companies in equipment and services for fisheries and aquaculture.

The government see great potential for increased trade and exports in this area as well.

My experiences from my travels to countries such as Iran, Brazil and China is that they are all showing a big interest in Norwegian technology.

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Today, importers of Norwegian seafood can be assured that:

  • Norwegian seafood is harvested and produced sustainably.
  • That it is healthy and safe to eat.
  • And not least – that it tastes good!

We have a well developed management system to ensure it stays like this!

But, we still have some challenges:

• We can utilize the resources more, including the use of new technology.

• We can harvest new species. There are probably 10 000 million tons of mesopelagic fish in the oceans.

• We can cultivate new species, such as shellfish and seaweed.

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If we are to provide the world`s increasing population with enough healthy and nutritious food, aquaculture has a vital role to play.

Aquaculture is one of the most productive industries in Norway and we have some of the world's leading companies. It is no secret that the government has high ambitions for this industry.

However, as you know, the industry is struggling with some challenges. Especially sea lice and escapees.

Last year at this conference, I talked about our "traffic light system". Regulations that implements the new system have now been adapted, and will come into effect 1 October this year.

This is a major milestone both for the industry and for the government. We will get a modern, more predictable and more flexible system.

We have defined 13 production areas along the coast.

Growth will be determined by the industry’s impact on the environment around them. Especially, the impact sea lice has on wild salmon.

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The industry has been mostly concerned about two questions – flexibility and the model to determine the impact lice has on wild salmon.

Let me take the model first. Are the methods good enough to determine the impact of lice on wild salmon?

To that I can say that all the knowledge gaps are not filled yet. But we are constantly using the best and most up to date knowledge available. An expert group has been and is still working hard to check and improve the methods.

Last month the first report from the expert group was made public. The report includes the first "test" of the new system, indicating the level of sea lice impact on wild salmonids in the different production areas.

A revised report, which will include new data from the migration of wild salmon this summer, will be available before the first capacity growth that is planned to be assessed this autumn.

If the indicator in a production area is green, the capacity can be increased by 6 percent. Yellow means capacity can be unchanged, while red means capacity can be reduced.

The production capacity of those with red and yellow lights will remain unchanged until the next evaluation in 2019. This gives the industry appropriate time to adjust to the new system.

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Then, the question on flexibility; The new production areas are smaller than todays regions. Many of the existing licenses are connected to sites in two or more production areas.

At the same time, the Parliament has decided that the geographical flexibility, enjoyed by companies that are processing a significant share of their production, shall be upheld in the system.

In the new system, as the general rule, this means that these companies will be able to utilize a license across three neighbouring production areas. Other licenses can be utilized in two production areas.

It is also important that small and medium sized businesses shall have flexibility. Therefore, operators that end up with licenses in only one area, shall have the opportunity to operate in a neighbouring area

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When I was here last year, I made another important point: The industry has many opportunities to grow outside the new system.

Larger smolt, reducing losses in production, improvements in breeding and more efficient feed, land based production. The possibilities are many!

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We also need to develop new fish farming technology in order to be able to grow.

Today we are seeing many interesting innovations:

Closed cages at sea, land-based facilities, improvements of existing technology, and last but not least – offshore aquaculture sites.

Salmars newly constructed offshore facility is soon to be delivered from China. This is a major milestone for the industry.

The construction is bigger than the Goliat oil platform, and it can hold up to 1.2 million salmon.

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Speaking of China brings me over to another important area – market access.

It has been a year of big changes that can affect our international trade. Trump and Brexit on one hand - the normalization with China on the other.

We have a close dialogue with both the UK and EU to secure best possible access to the British market after Brexit. And to maintain the EEA Agreement. 

To be well prepared for the negotiations, we have established a working group and a reference group from the industry.

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There are not only grey clouds in the sky.

I am very glad that the bilateral relations with China have  been normalized. We will restart the negotiation of a free trade agreementin August. This was announced when the Norwegian prime minister visited China in April.

Two weeks ago, I brought with me a big seafood delegation to China.

We signed an agreement that ensures a predictable and stable framework on food safety for exports ofNorwegian salmon to China.

I have no doubt that there is a tremendous potential for Norwegian seafood – not least salmon - in China.

I know that many Norwegian companies are eager to offer the Chinese people more seafood from Norway. The new agreement is an important step to realize this.

And, as I mentioned earlier, we do not only see big opportunities for Norwegian seafood, but also for Norwegian suppliers of technology, equipment and services, especially related to the aquaculture sector.

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Dear ladies and gentlemen,

We can be proud of the Norwegian seafood and the system we have that keeps it healthy and safe to eat, nutritious and tasty. - In China, they only want the Norwegian salmon, not anything else!

This is our biggest asset, to use a financial term;

  • We must maintain this reputation.
  • We must continue to cooperate.
  • We need a predictable framework – which the new traffic light system will provide.

Many important topics are going to be discussed here today, and I wish you a great seminar.

Thank you for your attention.

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