Jørnar Selnes Skjæran. Photo by: Norway government
Jørnar Selnes Skjæran. Photo by: Norway government

Skjæran, the Norwegian Fisheries Minister, wants sustainable and fish-awareness industry

According to Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran, Norway’s seafood industry has been a record export in 2022 but must incorporate technology, new methods, and species to maintain and reach new markets.

According to Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran, Norway's seafood industry has been a record export in 2022 but must incorporate technology, new methods, and species to maintain and reach new markets.

Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran celebrated 2022's record export value, as proof of their hard work in the industry and their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Although, he explained that the exporter's value is related to higher food prices due to global inflation and a decrease in the Norwegian kroner's value.

Higher prices contributed to Norway registering a seafood export value of NOK 12.8 billion (€1.1 billion) in February 2023. As analyzed by the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC), this value represented an increase of 14% or NOK 1.6 billion (€142.1 million) compared to the corresponding month in 2022. Nonetheless, total volume in the 28-day period fell 17 percent year-on-year to 207,000 MT, with NSC saying this was the sixth consecutive month in which raw tonnage had fallen.

For Skjæran, the salmon harvester is a sector that can go further. Nevertheless, it needs to be fixed setting high standards of sustainability and the welfare of the fish-farmed.

Thus, the challenge is maintaining their ability of adaptability, because it plays a main role in their market development. "We must continue to develop with new production methods, new technologies, and even closer cooperation. And our approach must be more holistic and more sustainable", he said.

For this purpose, the government would establish the "traffic light system" to develop sustainable management of the aquaculture industry. Besides, it would take into account de locally-produced feed to assist in the reduction of the carbon footprint and ensure henceforth the circular economy.

Firstly fish welfare, secondly more species for more markets

Consumer expectations are nowadays close to ethical production. So according to Skjæran, fish welfare is a must. "We also need to develop new production methods and locations like offshore fish farms," he said. Finally, the government established a basic protocol framework for offshore aquaculture and will continue developing it.

"But moving forward is not just about tackling the challenges that we see today. It's also about blazing a trail to the aquaculture of tomorrow. We need to expand into new products and make use of new species," Skjæran claims.

All these measures have caused a lot of controversy, especially because of the "salmon tax", even creating different proposals of the model offered by Skjæran.