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Business booms as farmed fish satisfies consumer quality and food safety issue

NORWAY - Norways fish farming industry saw a 29 per cent increase in profits last year and 2007 looks set to match it, writes Jane Jordan, TheFishSite Editor.

Speaking at Aqua Nor, Peter Gullestad, President of Nor Fishing Foundation, said it had been the 'best year ever' with margins representing NOR 6million krone, the equivalent of $1billion US.

“The industry has matured. It has broken free of the six year cyclical nature we experienced in previous years. A year of good returns followed by two-year lows appears to have gone and the industry is growing and much more stable,” he said.

The economic outlook for Norway’s aquaculture sector is promising, with continued growth in both seafood and fin fish markets. The export business is expanding and with increasing demand from retailers for full traceability, consistent product quality and food safety assurance, farmed fish is the obvious choice of supply.

Impressed

Speaking to the TheFishSite, Alistair Lane, Chef Executive of the European Aquaculture Society said that retailers are impressed by the development of the sector in recent years. Science and innovation are driving the industry and this was bringing immense benefits in terms of consumer confidence, quality assurance and productivity.

“Aquaculture is now an established food production industry. It’s more proactive at communicating its value to consumers and about what it does, and how it does it,” said Mr Lane.

He believed that the negative image the industry was perceived to have say ten years ago had been quashed. The industry was now regarded as a viable, hi-tech food production business with a clear place in the global food sector. European industry was striving to meet challenges of increasing demand, alongside welfare and environmental considerations and it was succeeding.

“Mr Lane said that all stakeholders supported a consumer-driven approach and the positive massage of sustainability and food safety would be increasingly important – and of clear benefit in developing and securing global market share for farmed fish and seafood products.

“A European standard for sustainable aquaculture is a real possibility. Europe’s industry, fresh water and off shore, can satisfy consumer demands,” said Mr Lane.

He said that that key European retailers were already talking to the industry about developing this strategy and producing a recognised quality standard. This was already well-established and very successful in the caught sea fish sector and they see no reason why the same formula cannot be applied to farmed-fish.

Aquaculture has the ability to produce consistent, high-quality fully traceable products in a sustainable way. The gap between industry/production and research was closing; innovation and improvement were science led and there is a clear emphasis on ethical production, said Mr Lane.

He believed that further developments in biotechnology will help producers address waste disposal issues and improve feeding techniques – which will also have a huge impact on sustainability and reducing environmental impact.

In short, aquaculture is becoming very marketable, with huge potential to secure a considerable share of the market throughout Europe and the world.

the Fish Site Editor

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