Historisk arkiv

Opening speech at the “Round table discussion” in Chile

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Stoltenberg II

Utgiver: Fiskeri- og kystdepartementet

Fiskeri- og kystminister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen åpningstale ved rundebordsdiskusjon i Chile, 19. november 2012.

(Sjekkes mot fremføring)


Vice-Minister, Ambassador, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to have this opportunity to visit Chile. Over the past 20 years, the aquaculture industry has undergone significant progress in both our countries. Behind this success is the industry’s impressive ability to find solutions to a long series of challenges related to technology, operations, disease, breeding, feed, markets, etc.

This ability to overcome challenges highlights that the fish farming industry is based on – and dependent on – the highest quality of research and innovation.

Chile and Norway share a common advantage: both have long coastlines with cold, clear waters. However, we would not have been able to exploit this natural advantage without the right knowledge.

The growth and development of our fish farming industry would not have been possible without solid research, competent research communities, and innovative thinking.

Knowledge has been and will continue to be critically important to us. Knowledge-based development is a long-term project and will help us to face the many challenges in the years to come.

There will be challenges related to the environmental impact of our activities such as the large production losses, salmon lice, escaped fish and better use of the coastline areas. We are now building up the competence the industry will need for the next 10 – 20 years.

Marine research is a priority area in Norway's research and innovation policy.

Nearly 40 per cent of the budget of the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs is invested in research and development (more than 250 million US dollars in 2011).

The total amount spent on aquaculture research in Norway last year was around 175 million US dollars. 54 per cent of the research was financed by public funds and 46 per cent by the industry.

The government funding is divided between the universities, which provide basic science and education, and the Research Council of Norway, which funds basic science and applied science involving industrial partners.

Furthermore, the government funds a number of public institutes that provide research to support government and government agencies.

Such as the Food Safety Authority and also the Directorate of Fisheries in their policy development and management. My ministry funds institutes such as the Institute of Marine Research, the National Veterinary Institute and the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research.

The industry funding relies on a compulsory levy of 0.3 per cent of the export value, which goes to the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund. The Fund covers both aquaculture and fisheries, and Industry representatives decide on projects to resolve the industry’s challenges. Last year the Industry Research Fund contributed a total of 35 million US dollars to research connected to the fisheries and aquaculture industry.

In addition, some companies finance research and development to meet their individual needs, such as development of pharmaceutical products, feed development and improved breeding techniques.

Finally, an increasingly important source of research funding is coming from growing international cooperation and, for Norway, access to the EU research framework programmes. 

Aquaculture - like any other food production - has environmental impacts. These impacts must, however, be kept within acceptable limits. Since we rely on nature as our production premises, environmental sustainability is an absolute necessity for the long-term development and growth of the aquaculture industry.

I would like to take a little glimpse back in time, to put things in perspective: In 1987 Norway produced about 50,000 tonnes of farmed salmon. There were widespread problems with bacterial diseases, and the industry used 50,000 kg of antibiotics. Between 1987 and 1993 vaccines were developed to prevent the main diseases.

This was achieved, through better management, and constructive cooperation between the authorities, the industry and the research community. As a result, since 1993 the use of antibiotics has been low and stable (less than 1,000 kg a year), while production has risen from 150,000 tonnes in 1993 to 1 million tonnes in 2011.

In my view, this is a text-book example of how technological innovations, targeted research, and cooperation between the industry and authorities can contribute to sustainable solutions to the challenges we face at any time. You may have noticed that sea lice and escapees are the two main environmental issues that Norway is currently working on. Over the next 6-8 years, we are planning to spend more than 80 million US dollars on research related to these two areas. I am convinced that in the future we will be able to tell the story of how the sea lice challenge was resolved and that research played a central role in the solution.

I mentioned earlier the significance of the Research Council of Norway.

The Aquaculture programme is the Research Council’s most important funding instrument for aquaculture research and serves two main purposes.

The primary objective of the programme is to acquire knowledge to achieve economically, environmentally and socially sustainable growth in aquaculture in Norway.

The secondary objective is to enable Norwegian research groups to be at the forefront of international knowledge development.

The Aquaculture programme has a long-term perspective and a broad field of responsibility, and employs a wide variety of project types and strategic measures to achieve its objectives.

By supporting strategic research, applied research and user-driven research, the programme will generate new expertise in key areas.

Between 2011 and 2015, the Aquaculture programme will give priority to the following themes; Sustainable seafood production, healthy fish, feeds of the future, other production species, environment-friendly aquaculture technology and genetics and selective breeding.

The Aquaculture programme gives priority to cooperation across company and institutional boundaries, as well as to promoting international participation in research projects. The Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund, Innovation Norway and the regional research funds are important partners in this collaboration.

The demand for high-quality seafood is increasing worldwide. Norway and Chile both have the potential to increase their aquaculture production. In my view, the key success factor for growth is environmental sustainability.

The driving force for achieving environmental sustainability should be the industry itself, but in my view it also requires strong commitments to governance, research and development.

In 2009 the Norwegian government presented its “Strategy for an environmentally sustainable Norwegian aquaculture industry”. The strategy identifies challenges linked to escapees and genetic interactions, pollution and discharges, disease and parasites, use of coastal areas, and feed and feed resources. 

We are currently working to refine our strategy in this area. A set of indicators and limits for environmental impact will be developed. Priority, will be given to sea lice and escapees.

It is important to keep in mind that environmental sustainability is a dynamic concept which is constantly evolving and cannot be settled once and for all overnight. It is also important to remember that all food production has an ecological footprint.

The question is how big the footprint can be and what is acceptable. At the end of the day the size of the maximum acceptable footprint is a political decision.

The world population will increase by 50 per cent over the next 40 years. All these people will need food.

It is generally recognized that in the future seafood will play a greater role in global food security. According to the FAO, most of this increased seafood production must come from aquaculture. In some areas in the world, aquaculture contributes to both food security and the struggle against poverty. In other areas – like in the developed world - increased seafood production consumption can help reduce lifestyle-related health problems such as obesity.

Furthermore, seafood in general and aquaculture products in particular have a far smaller carbon footprint than other animal protein sources. Having said this, when the FAO advocates increased aquaculture production, it is hardly farming of fish-eating species like salmon they have in mind – although farming of fish eating-species makes an important contribution and will continue to do so.

Research on fish feed must be given high priority. New sources of fish feed must be developed. Aquaculture is a more efficient protein production than agriculture. But new sources need to be developed to avoid a shortage of raw materials for feed.

To increase the feed supply sustainably, the industry must develop feed with less marine oil and meal. Algae, plankton and plant matter are potential alternative raw materials. Research must focus on food safety as well as fish welfare and health. It is important to maintain seafood's nutritional benefits for the consumer.

Other important steps to ensure sufficient raw material in the short term, include combatting IUU fishing and discards, and better utilization of the entire fish.

We need to become better at using our resources carefully and not being wasteful. 

In order to succeed, broad international cooperation is necessary. We operate in the same markets, and consumers are not necessarily concerned with which country the fish comes from.

They are, however, concerned with seafood safety and that the fish is produced in a sustainable way. Clear answers to these questions are important to make sure that consumers choose seafood instead of alternative products. By solving environmental problems and providing the necessary documentation, the industry will pave the way for future growth.

Initiatives like this “round table discussion” are important.

By sharing experiences, organizing discussions and encouraging joint projects, you are contributing to the development of aquaculture and global food security. Governments and the industry have different roles and responsibilities, but we are depending on each other to succeed.

Norway is keen to learn from the experiences of others and, vice versa, we hope that our own experiences can help other fish-farming countries to develop their aquaculture industries.

I hope that this gathering will provide opportunities for fruitful discussions, and I am sure that both Norway and Chile will benefit from such cooperation.

Thank you for your attention!