With many important stocks of fish battling overfishing, the profits from each single catch have become more important than ever. In response to this increasingly difficult environmental situation, coastal populations - and the coastal fishing, processing plants and fish farms on which they rely - have turned their attention to increasing their utilization of the by-catch and fishery by-products.
New research is strengthening their market position. Fish processing and the better use of fishery by-products keep 12,500 people employed in Norway's processing industry. Fish processing based on raw materials from both fisheries and aquaculture, has a huge impact on regional economic activity, and the new focus on turning by-products into products significantly improves profitability.
One important by-product is the volume of formerly valueless fish parts that remain after filleting and other processing. Instead of being wasted, these are now being transformed into high-quality fish feed for the aquaculture industry. There are 12 herring meal and oil plants along the Norwegian coast dedicated to such production, and throughout the world the production of fish feed for aquaculture represents a significant growth industry. Fishmeal must be free of all substances that may cause injury to fish, people or the environment.
Atlas-Stord Norway AS plays a major role in the continued development of the fishmeal industry. The company develops and manufactures high-quality equipment to meet the industry's need for high-yield, efficient energy utilization, gentle drying and environmental protection. The company's expertise is reflected in its products, including cookers, twin-screw presses, evaporators and a wide variety of driers for the production of both standard and specialized fish meal.
The Norwegian research institute SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture has worked to develop technology to detect unwanted substances across the fishing industry, and field software to test the full industry chain is available for players with an interest in checking exports for quality. SINTEF's research is at the heart of these innovations, and the group has joined 18 companies and research institutes in a European Union initiative called project "Tracefish", aimed at establishing an industry-wide protocol for identifying pollutants in processed fish products.
Norwegian information and communications technology is poised to help code and disseminate the information, while providing a fishing-industry standard. Research efforts focusing on eliminating waste have boosted the viability of smaller-scale coastal fisheries and renewed the dynamism of the fishing industry as a whole. Moreover, utilizing unexploited fish resources is an activity of Norway's leading marine technological sector that has paid off. The decline in numbers of fish processing companies has halted, and thanks in part to technological strides made in Norway, the process industry has been revived.