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Norway has taken another step towards offshore fish farming, with the launch of a public consultation on the country’s next steps in offshore aquaculture.

In November last year, the Norwegian government decided that the areas of Norskerenna south, Frøyabanken north and Trænabanken should be assessed for impacts on offshore aquaculture. 

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Now the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries is giving the Norwegian public the chance to have their say on the topic.

“This is an important milestone in the work to facilitate aquaculture at sea,” said Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran in a Norwegian-language statement.

“The government wants to facilitate further growth in an industry which already brings in great value to the community and which is the most important engine on the coast.”

Offshore aquaculture needs to coexist with other marine industries

Norway’s government has already announced plans to develop its own licensing regime for farming at sea, with strict requirements for sustainability and coexistence between different marine industries.

“It is important to be completely clear. Industries already using the sea must be assured that they will not be displaced. Coexistence with other industries and care for spawning grounds and rearing areas are absolutely central to our work,” Skjæran said.

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Hugh economic potential predicted for offshore aquaculture by 2050

A report on offshore aquaculture produced by Norwegian research institute SINTEF predicts that towards 2050, offshore aquaculture could generate an annual value creation of NOK 100 billion, including “many tens of thousands employed in the value chain and spin-off industries that include both districts and cities in Norway”.

In a summary of the same report, SINTEF researchers note that offshore aquaculture can contribute to Norway’s goal “to lead the way in the development of the world’s most productive and environmentally friendly aquaculture industry with the production of food resources for a growing world market.”

11 possible offshore aquaculture sites whittled down to three

Of the possible 11 maritime zones originally considered, three are now proposed as potential offshore aquaculture sites in the consultation. The remaining 8 possible sites will be subject to further analysis on their suitability.

“I encourage everyone to contribute constructive input in this important work,” the Minister said.

The consultation will close on 24 May 2023.

About the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries

Headquartered in Bergen, Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries serves as the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries’ advisory and executive body in matters pertaining to fishing and the management of aquaculture. Founded in 1900, its main tasks involve regulation, guidance, supervision, resource management and quality control.

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