The future is bright blue

By Per Sandberg, Norwegian Minister of Fisheries

Providing enough food for a growing population is one of the most challenging questions in our time. Blue growth is the key to a sustainable future.

The seafood industry is unique: it has a long past and an incredibly promising future. Historically speaking, fisheries have been one of Norway’s most important industries. Fish became an important trading commodity in the 17th century. It has provided people with work, income and food for several hundred years.

Today Norway is ranked as the world’s second largest exporting nation, supplying more than 140 countries worldwide with Norwegian seafood. The total value of our exports in 2016 amounted to 10.2 billion Euros.

As Norway’s minister of fisheries, I am proud to represent an industry that produces commodities as vitally important as food. The world’s population is growing, and by 2050 we expect to have nine billion individuals to inhabit the planet.

The increased world population, coupled with climate change and urbanization, makes it even more important to harvest from the sea. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the world must increase food production by 70 percent by 2050 in order to meet the increase in demand.

The increase in food demand is a tremendous challenge that we must solve partly by producing seafood. The main growth in supplies of seafood will have to come from aquaculture production.

However, ocean farming needs to be developed in a sustainable way. The footprint on the environment must be at an acceptable level. As the world largest producer of farmed salmon Norway is committed to sustainable aquaculture.

Scientists believe that the potential for marine growth in Norway can be quadrupled over the next 30 years. To be able to reach this potential we need to expand our knowledge and technology. We must create new knowledge-based jobs and contribute to the necessary shift in the economy. This is a challenge, but also an opportunity.

For Norway’s part, it means that we have to move from a petroleum-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. We have to use our experience in new ways. We have valuable knowledge from the oil industry that can contribute to new blue growth, one example is the development of off-shore sea-farms.

We are encouraging innovation and technological development. That is why the government recently announced special licenses for innovation projects. This is an incentive to develop and commercialize new, more environmentally sustainable technology paving the way for future growth.

The opportunities that lies in our oceans will not be realised by themselves. But we can seize the opportunities through cooperation and interaction between government, researchers, commercial actors and industry. Together we can create a bright blue future.

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