In cod we trust, says Lena Fjellvang, holding a fresh caught skrei. (Photo: Marius Fiskum, Norwegian seafood council)
In cod we trust, says Lena Fjellvang, holding a fresh caught skrei. (Photo: Marius Fiskum, Norwegian seafood council)
Lena Fjellvang
Lena Fjellvang (27), is from Narvik. She works for the Norwegian Seafood Council in Tromsø.
15/04/2015

Cod is among our most important marine resources, and it is continuously winning more and more hearts around the world. It’s about passion for a product that is so pure, healthy and strong, with a long history and a future that is hopefully even longer. That requires our commitment.

Two years ago, all I knew about fish I had learned from my grandfather, the fisherman. He taught me about the difference between cod, saithe and haddock, and how to use the knife to gut it correctly.

What he didn’t teach me is that Norway is the world’s second largest seafood exporter and that the seafood we harvest is enjoyed by 37 million people worldwide, every single day.

Today, I am honored to be a part of the adventure that Norwegian seafood is. The way we manage our marine resources allows us to continue building this adventure into the future. The seafood from the cold and clear waters is highly valued worldwide, and it is our responsibility to take care of it for future generations.

It’s about passion

This January, as the sun had begun to wake up from its hibernation, chefs and journalists from Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, UK and Sweden landed on a small airport in Northern Norway. They got on a bus and drove two hours on roads that are open when the weather decides, and, in the same way, closed when the weather decides. They crossed the bridge over to the island of Senja, and continued out to where the road ends somewhere in between the rough and cold ocean, and the steep mountains.

Here, the fishermen live and work, as they have done with their families by their side for hundreds of years. One can only be amazed by the people’s will to create, by how they invest in the most high technology equipment and in new roads and tunnels for good distribution to make sure that the cod they catch can keep the same high quality when it reaches consumers in Europe, Asia and America.

The long traveling guests had come here to experience the origin behind it, the people working with it, and of course the cod itself.

The Spanish chef Sergio Perez didn’t hide his excitement as he compared the skrei to the Iberico ham while proudly holding up his first catch. To him and many other chefs, the origin and the story behind the product is an important part of the experience they provide at their restaurant. We like to call it “Skreipassion”, and this passion is just as alive with the people in the fishing villages of Northern Norway as it is with Michelin chefs from Germany and France.

Globetrotter

In USA, the seasonal migrating Norwegian cod, quality labeled as SKREI®, has had a tremendous last couple of years. During the winter months, more and more fresh cod is being flown over the Atlantic to chefs and consumers praising its quality. They also value the sustainability in the Norwegian cod fisheries.

On the other side, in China, there is no knowledge of Norwegian cod. Yet. But there is a great interest in food that has been raised in clean and unpolluted environments, for food that holds a high level of the important nutrition.

Estimations made by Norwegian Seafood Council shows that there is a potential market of 20.000 tonnes cod consumed every year in a short period of time.

India is one of the very interesting markets, experiencing a strong economic growth, and which could be a future important market for Norwegian seafood, cod included.

Into the future

India and China are examples of what could be important export markets for Norwegian cod in the future. The Norwegian Seafood Council has defined the development of new markets as one of its strategic priorities in the years to come. Developing new markets for Norwegian seafood means increasing demand and securing future demand, and hence securing the future of the sustainable and economically important fisheries and aquaculture industries and for the people of the North.

Securing the future is also about securing sustainable management of the resources of the sea and maintaining the fragile balance of the environment in the sea.

We should be proud that the cod stock in the Barents sea is the biggest and best sustainably managed cod stock in the world, and that managing it is done in joint effort by Norway and our neighbour countries based on advice from internationally reputable research institutes. I think this is an example to follow in many different cases.

The Norwegian cod adventure is a proof that sustainable management and a clean environment provides a breeding ground for economic growth as well. In 2013 and 2014, Norway experienced some of the most wonderful skrei fisheries in decades, and never before has the world eaten more Norwegian cod.

Researchers are only at the beginning to understand the potential that lies within the big blue, and with knowledge gained, even more opportunities arises.

So for all matters, we should build our economy around long-term values and take care of the resources we have been given. They will continue taking care of us if we continue taking care of them. That is what development for the people of the north should be about. 

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On Friday the 25th of April the USA will assume Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. In the days prior to the meeting, future leaders of the High North are attending a workshop in Ottawa to discuss the future of the North. High North News will be present in Ottawa, but ahead of the workshop the norwegian delegates will present their thoughts and opinions by blogging for High North News. Todays post is written by Lena Fjellvang, from Narvik. She works for the Norwegian Seafood Council.

More from future arctic leaders: Can the Arctic be sheltered? 

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