The Development of Norway's Atlantic Salmon Farming in Coastal Waters
The success of saltwater aquaculture has attracted many former Norwegian fishermen, disillusioned with declining fishery catches, to apply for licenses to start a salmon or trout farm. It is estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of the license holders are former fishermen. Many of these potential salmon or trout farmers inhabit the isolated communities along the fjords and islands of the north and western coast of Norway.
The Norwegian Government encourages fish farming in the sparsely populated coastal regions for both strategic and social reasons. Government officials regard salmon fishing as one of the most lucrative commercial activities available to residents of many isolated coastal communities. Modern fish culture methods have enabled aquaculturists to start with relatively small investments and gradually expand their operations. The Norwegian Government assists small operators by guaranteeing loans through the Regional Development Fund and the Agricultural Development Fund. The Government, however, has restricted salmon farming investments by large companies, and has also imposed a size restriction on salmon farms to limit the industry primarily to small, owner-operated farms.
Although most Norwegian fish farms are relatively small, a few large ones were in operation before the 1973 law restricted netcage capacities. The largest Norwegian fish farm, operated near Bergen by the Mowi Company, produces over 500 ton cultured salmon per year. The Mowi company was founded in 1969 and its shares are partly held by the state-owned Norwegian electric power company, Norsk Hydro. Mowi has developed techniques for raising Atlantic salmon smolts and transferring them to saltwater cages in the fjords where they are protected and fed until reaching marketable size in 3-4years. Mowi exported its first cultured salmon in 1971 and by the mid-1970's had expanded its produc-tion to the point where it could guarantee regular supplies to its major customers.
Two species of fish are extensively cultured in Norway: Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout. In recent years, the Atlantic salmon has come to dominate the industry.
The success of Norwegian Atlantic salmon exports is due to several factors. The salmon is of very high quality and is mostly shipped fresh by the Scandinavian Airlines System. Because the fish are farmed and not caught in the wild, fresh shipments can be guaranteed at anytime of the year, and are especially valued at those times when the catch of wild salmon is down. The high quality and year-round availability of Norway's farmed salmon makes it particularly valuable to such specialized customers as restaurants, hotels, gourmet stores, etc.
Future of Norwegian Aquaculture
Prospects for farmed fish production in Norway are very good, and industry expansion, primarily salmon production, is expected to continue. The Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries, which is investing large amounts of time and money into the research and development of farmed fish in Norway, is very optimistic. The Ministry is, however, concerned that too rapid an expansion of salmon farms could lead to a decline in prices obtained by salmon aquacuiturists. As a result, the Ministry is attempt-ing to encourage fish farmers to also begin working with other equally costbeneficial species (i.e.,cod). The decline of the once flourishing Norwegian codfishery in recent years has led many scientists to experiment with codfarming. Early results of these experiments have been good, and Ministry officials hope that a lucrative farmed cod industry can one day help supplement dwindling natural resources.
Hereby, we intend to start projects of salmon farming with a license from the Norwegian Fisheries Authority as a small company in regional rural areas in Northern Norway.
Through this project, we also want to highlight the reform that from 1973 regulates the future and development of the Norwegian countryside throughout Norway in a most revolutionary and uniquely innovative way. This has, politically and concretely, established a greater substantial value nationally than what individual and centralized multinational companies have never been able to achieve with the geographical condition that Norway has. The regulation and reform that protects small businesses and local production in Norway is a world-leading example, and a prime example for the future not only in Norway.