If you are studying at college, you may have already come across the Norwegian Seafood Council in the UK. They support the professional chef industry through discovery tours, events and competition, and work very closely with our amazing fish and chip shop businesses all around the country, even taking the finalists of the National Fish and Chip of the year over to Norway to see, for themselves, the important work the NSC does to protect fish stocks for future generations.
If you are new to the Norwegian Seafood Council, here is an overview of the organisation, and the work they do. Remember, to always think sustainably when you are buying fish and seafood. If buying in a professional capacity, your wholesaler will be able to provide you with area of origin and sustainability feedback. If you are in a supermarket, buying for your own consumption, inspect the packaging, or question the fishmonger. Look for reassurance that the fish you choose is from well- managed, respectful and considerate suppliers.
Who are the Norwegian Seafood Council?
The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) is a public company, owned by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries in Norway. They represent everyone in the Norwegian seafood industry, and are funded through fees levied on all exports of Norwegian seafood.
The NSC has head offices located in Tromsø, Norway, and have representatives in Sweden (Stockholm), UK (London), Germany (Hamburg), France (Paris), Spain (Madrid), Portugal (Lisbon), Italy (Milan), Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Japan (Tokyo), Thailand (Bangkok), China (Shanghai) and USA (Boston). In addition, they work to identify opportunities for Norwegian seafood products in both new and established markets.
What does the NSC do?
The Norwegian Seafood Council works together with the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industry to develop markets for Norwegian seafood, using these three disciplines;
NSC marketing work aims to further increase the demand for Norwegian Seafood in both new and established markets.
NSC works together with the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industry to identify and develop markets for Norwegian seafood products. The broad range of marketing activities aims to support Norwegian seafood exporters. By raising awareness and preference for Norwegian seafood, marketing efforts lay the foundation for each of their exporters sales and marketing.
NSC is the industry’s main source for market insight based on statistics, trade information, consumption and consumer insight. They provide effective and rational services for Norwegian seafood exporters that adds to their knowledge and insight in bringing their products to market. The services provided give the industry continuous access to important insight that forms the basis of strategic decisions and competitive advantages.
Communication and market risk management:
NSC contributes to safeguard the reputation of Norwegian seafood with active and goal-oriented work together with the different companies within the seafood industry, different authoritative bodies and media. The NSC continuously work to strengthen the proactive market risk management for Norwegian seafood in Norway as well as the most important seafood markets.
Norway – a global leader in sustainable seafood
You will have seen, or heard much in the news about the depletion of fish stocks in certain areas, and how we should only be purchasing fish and seafood from sustainable sources. This can be a minefield to understand, but with the help of organisations such as the NSC, it becomes easier to adopt sustainability into the purchasing of fish and seafood.
Norway is the world’s second largest exporter of seafood, providing 37 million daily meals of seafood to 150 countries across the globe. Responsible management of precious resources is at the very core of the Norwegian seafood industry.
Norwegian seas are protected by law and the Norwegian method is so successful that they now manage some of the largest cod and herring stocks in the world, with other species also thriving in their waters.
The ecosystem-based approach also means that the seas are healthier as a result, with important corals being protected, for example. Norway have been the flag bearers on sustainability for decades, inspiring others to put laws in place to protect fish stocks and exporting their fisheries management expertise to underdeveloped fishing nations looking to build – and maintain – thriving and sustainable stocks.
The fish: Protected by law
In the 1980s, Norway experienced a serious fisheries crisis. Two of their most important fish stocks were close to depletion, the North East Arctic Cod, known to many as skrei, and Norwegian herring.
The urgent need for stricter controls brought about a new law protecting precious fish stocks. Today, this law is known as the Marine Resources act and has been updated to secure sustainable and economically sound management of Norwegian fish stocks now and for the future.
Finding and counting fish
You cannot set accurate fishing quotas without first having a thorough understanding of the health of the seas. Norway spends a significant amount of time, money, and expertise on gathering the data that is needed to accurately set quotas for how much they – and other coastal states – can responsibly harvest from the various fish stocks each year.
Scientific stock assessments and data collection is carried out by The National Institute of Marine Research. The data from these assessments is important for The International Council for The Exploration of the Seas (ICES) which prior to each fishing season, provides independent catch advice to the coastal states.
Not everything is up for grabs
The thorough stock assessments enable NSC to protect younger fish classes from being caught, allowing new generations of fish to grow large enough before being subject to catching.
This approach makes sense both ecologically and economically as the cost of “counting” is offset by future economic benefits.
The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries carries out trial fishing to identify what areas should be considered closed for a period of time to allow fish to spawn, grow and thrive. Closing of fisheries can also be a result of efforts to protect other vulnerable parts of the ecosystem, such as important corals. A ban of certain fishing equipment or methods may then become relevant.
Sticking to your targeted catch
By-catch (other species caught by mistake) will always be a problem in fishing, but Norway has been taking steps for more than three decades to reduce the number of fish caught outside of quotas.
There are rules guiding sorting grid size, mesh net size and the size of hooks used – all of which are designed to maximise targeted catch while making sure larger or smaller fish are spared and to protect the fragile ecosystems along the coast.
No throwing back: A ban on discards
Despite new and improved equipment, by-catch is inevitable. But in Norway, discards (throwing away) are banned. As well as being a highly wasteful practice, discarding by-catch makes it much harder to assess the health of the seas and the underlying condition of the stocks. Norway introduced the ban on discards in 1987. The EU recently introduced the same practice.
Control: More than just words
Regulation must be enforced, and Norway takes a multi-body approach to ensuring fishing policies are followed. The Norwegian Coast Guard spends around 70 percent of its resources making sure fishing activities are carried out at the right time, in the right areas and with the right equipment. The Directorate of Fisheries carries out regular inspections of fishing vessels arriving in port and at sea.