Ladies and gentlemen,
My Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries has a whole range of institutions, professors or other professionals who wish to advise us on political decisions.
One of our advisors is the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. ICES has survived as an international advisor on marine resources for more than 100 years. The reason for this: reliable advice. In ICES own words their advice has been:
Legitimate, unbiased, and non-political
When it comes to fisheries, ICES shall provide the best available science for decision-makers.
Science is the basis to make informed choices on the sustainable use of the marine environment and ecosystems.
Our institute of marine research participates heavily in the ICES process, and ICES has been a cornerstone for sustainable management of our marine resources with a well-developed system for international scientific cooperation.
ICES is committed to building a foundation of science for understanding marine ecosystems. In this context, I have learnt that ICES established a working group on aquaculture in 2013.
I find this work interesting, and I will certainly follow the unfolding of this side of ICES work with attention.
If we take a look at the Norwegian aquaculture, it is a fairy tale. In about 40 years, the industry has developed from merely an idea to an industry producing 1.3 million tons of seafood. Ever more countries are pointing to Norway - as one of few countries in the world – that can tell the story of a continuous growth in aquaculture production. We must have done some things right!
But let me first tell you about the milestone we reached two months ago.
The government put forward a white paper on predictable and environmentally sustainable growth in the Norwegian salmon and trout farming.
The white paper is a leap forward in a further development of the Norwegian salmon industry.
This is something I am proud of!
And let's be clear about the bottom line: growth can only take place on one condition, and that is that this industry is environmentally sustainable!
The new growth system means that the government proposes to divide the coast into production areas. In these areas the growth is managed through an action programme based on one or more environmental indicators.
The system offers transparency to the industry. They will know how they are measured, when they are measured and what is needed for the industry to grow.
The action program will ensure that growth will only take place where nature can endure it.
The White Paper is currently assessed by Parliament, and I look forward to their views and the debate in mid June.
Without the institutions providing research and marine knowledge it will not be possible to realize the potential for growth in the Norwegian seafood industry towards the year 2050.
The value growth is, as you may know, estimated by some researchers to a six fold, and most of it will probably happen within aquaculture.
The seafood industry is fundamental for Norway as a nation, and Norway has the right natural conditions for salmon farming.
New figures presented today shows that the number of jobs in the aquaculture sector is increasing. This is really good news for Norway and all communities along the coast where salmon farms are located.
The industry was founded by people who knew how to make use of the sea.
However, the interaction between entrepreneurs, research and authorities, is our main success factor.
The world and the aquaculture industry will continue to need innovative and brave people. In 35 years we will face the challenge of feeding 9 billion people.
In this context we have to consider the fact that a significant part of life in our planet is found in the ocean. And – that the aquaculture industry is the fastest growing food production sector in the world. In short aquaculture is an important component of world food security.
But increased aquaculture production must be sustainable in a long term; both from a social, economic and environmental point of view.
The blue economy is a priority for our societies in the North Atlantic region. We use the ocean and its resources for sustained economic growth and food security.
At the same time we implement policies protecting biodiversity and the marine environment.
If aquaculture shall achieve its rightful role - both as a provider of food, as well as a provider of socially and economically sustainable jobs – the business must operate under stable and predictable conditions set by the authorities. It is also my belief that the development of the blue economy requires a high quality scientific knowledge of the ocean and increased technological capability.
Norway is one of the world's largest exporters of seafood.
However, we do not only offer high quality seafood, we are also on the brim of being an important exporter of aquaculture technology and management know-how.
The Norwegian Government aims to develop aquaculture to become one of the most innovative and sustainable sectors.
If this is to become a reality we must invest in research and innovation.
We are increasing our efforts to ensure that Norwegian aquaculture operates within an environmental acceptable and sustainable framework.
Aquaculture has a great potential, and I would like to see this potential released.
I wish you a fruitful meeting.
Thank you for your attention.
Elisabeth Aspaker, Norwegian Minister of Fisheries, spoke to the Aquaculture Dialogue Meeting participants on Sustainable aquaculture - an untapped, renewable source of food.