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Employment fall in Norway's whitefish industry

by the Fish Site Editor
23 October 2006, at 1:00am

NORWAY - New figures from Fiskeriforskning show that employment in the whitefish industry in Norway has reduced by 45 % over the past decade. with the industry in the north being hardest hit.

"Finnmark County is hardest hit by this recession", says Scientist Bjørn Inge Bendiksen at Fiskeriforskning, who has conducted the study for the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs.

Sixty percent fewer workforce in employment

The figures for our northernmost county show that the number of people working with whitefish, or species such as cod, haddock and saithe, is reduced by 60 % - from around 2200 in 1995 to fewer than 900 in 2005.

Bendiksen explains that one of the reasons why Finnmark has been hit so hard is that the fillet industry traditionally has contributed to many jobs in the county. But this part of the industry has been struggling with poor profitability for a long time.

"Because of this, businesses have either had to shut down or increase the efficiency of production and reduce the number of employees in order to remain in the competition."

Raw materials being used for other products

But Finnmark isn't the only part of the country that's hard hit. Troms County is second on the list with its 52 % fewer jobs in the past decade. Sogn og Fjordane has also experienced a halving of the number of jobs in whitefish production.

However, some parts of the whitefish industry are experiencing optimism and growth. Raw materials supplied by the fishing fleet are increasingly being used for products other than fillets, including production of clipfish and stockfish.

"These products have had higher profitability and require less work effort and fewer employees than fillets of fresh fish", explains Bendiksen.

...and the winner is: Røst!

In recent years, Røst in Lofoten has experienced good fishing and a lot of activity. And they produce stockfish there.

"The cod (skrei) fishery has been particularly good around Røst. This provides good working conditions for the fishing fleet, which supplies large quantities of raw materials to the fish buyers on land", says Bendiksen in closing.

The study shows that the number of employees on Røst has increased by 10 % in the past decade. And the quantity of fish that the fleet has supplied to the industry on land has increased by 20 percent, to 13,500 tonnes in 2005.

The study includes the structural changes in the whitefish industry in the past decade, and was conducted on assignment from the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs.

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