News, Seafood

Betting on cod

The Norwegian seafood industry is widely respected for its focus on fish health, welfare, and environmental responsibility. For the past quarter century, Norwegian research institutions together with industry has been using this expertise in continuing to develop a deep practical...

During this time, there have been hundreds of projects related to these activities, financed privately as well as by the Research Council of Norway and EU/Nordic funding. There is a reason for this activity, and it is part of the positive prognosis regarding the years to come in the cod farming industry. According to Paul Greenberg of the New York Times, (New York Times, June 18, 2006) private investment in cod farming in Norway is increasing, and entrepreneurs are predicting that the harvest of farmed cod, like salmon before it, will begin to grow exponentially in the next few years and surpass the country’s wild cod catch by 2020.

An Opportunity Seized

The harvest of farmed cod, like salmon before it, is expected to enjoy major growth during the coming years. © Norsk Sjømatsenter

The Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs in Norway clearly anticipated the opportunities and synergies in the development of a united platform to allow all within the cod industry to enjoy the benefits that transfer of knowledge brings. The result has been the allocation of substantial funding targeted towards the start-up and management of the “Sats på Torsk” (Bet on the Cod Industry) project, a five-year project with specific goals including the achievement of a more effective disease control for cod in the fish.

The emphasis placed on the project will be nationwide and compliment other regional and country-wide activities. Over 100 companies and organizations are already members of the “Sats på Torsk” project, and include the solid research backing of the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, the University of Bergen, the College University of Bodø, Nina Research Station and others. Innovation Norway and the Research Council of Norway are also strong supporters in this ongoing project.

Initiation & Coordination

Based in Bergen, this nationwide project aims to improve knowledge, procedures and treatment to reduce disease problem and medication use among cod. © Norsk Sjømatsenter

Based in Bergen, this nationwide project aims to improve knowledge, procedures and treatment to reduce disease problem and necessary medication use among cod. A project team has been established with the goal of initiating and coordinating projects and activities as well as providing information to external stakeholders such as research organizations, media, public, and of course Norwegian companies within the cod industry regarding health care for cod.

Project examples include ”Codlight”, an ongoing EU CRAFT financed project. The project’s leading partner is located in Iceland, with Norwegian partnership from IMR, Intravision Gruop AS and Fjord Marin AS. Other “Sats på Torsk” activities include seminars, networking activities, strategic assistance, and the organization’s important function as a central contact-point within the cod industry involving government, industry, educational institutions and the research environment.

Spanning the Nation
Member companies in the “Sats på Torsk” project stretch from south to north in the country, with all coastal areas represented. Members include such well-known companies as the Aker Seafoods Group, which harvests, processes and sell seafood with a focus on sustainability and renewability. The Group is one of the largest employers in the Norwegian fisheries industry, as well as enjoying the status as one of the country’s leading producers and exporter of fish products.

The Rogaland and Møre and Romsdal regions are well-represented by Grieg Cod Farming, consisting of Grieg Cod Farming AS and Grieg Cod Juveniles AS. It is Grieg’s experience that farmed cod has been enthusiastically received in the market, with praise from the highest level of the culinary arts. The company also sees an advantage of farmed cod being the consistently predictable supply of high level of quality and predictable amounts and sizes. Brødrene Sperre was founded in 1945, seafood producer and exporter Brødrene Sperre AS is building upon three generations of experience. This company boasts a first-class reputation for high-quality products and outstanding service among its clients.

Nordland with its proximity to the sea is home to over 50 different companies and facilities that are part of the “Sats på Torsk” project. This county includes the Lofoten, a region famous for both its landscape and its traditional and historic fishing industry. It is also the home to Bodø University College, an important participant in the programme. The beautiful Sogn and Fjordan region is home to members that include Havlandet Havbruk, Norsk Marinfisk, Selje Marin Farm and others.

The counties of Trøms and Finnmark are represented by many cod companies, including Troll Fish, Ultra Seafood Loppa and Storfjord Torsk. In addition, the Aquaculture Research Station in Tromsø is a modern pilot project for studies of both marine and freshwater fish, seafood, shellfish and other aquatic organisms. Hordaland has a very active cod farming environment, with a number of companies as well as the University of Bergen, the Institute of Marine Research, and the headquarters of the Sats på Torsk project.

Long-term Goals
The “Sats på Torsk” programme has long-term ambitious goals related to health, genomics, feeds, the technology of tomorrow, as well as core R&D initiatives within the areas of production methods for good quality fry and stockfish, and genetic/ecological interactions between wild and farmed cod. Other initiatives include:

• Production methods and technology that ensure fish welfare and prevent escapement
• Disease and parasite control, with focus on vaccine development
• Selective breeding to increase production yield
• Feed and nutrition
• Product development, utilization of raw material, product quality
• Development of gentle, cost-effective and approved systems for weighing, counting and measuring of individual fish.
• Marked knowledge and consumer behaviour
• Sex development in relation to economic and environment friendly production
• Increased knowledge about xenobiotics and metals (iodine, selenium and heavy metals)

For more information regarding the “Sats på Torsk” project, contact the Norwegian Seafood Center (Norsk Sjømatsenter), Bontelabo 2, 5003 Bergen
(telephone +47 55 55 48 80,