Aquaculture for all

Purse Seine Fishing Can Increase Earnings

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NORWAY - A general quality improvement leading to a 10 per cent price increase would have increased the catch value of mackerel and Norwegian spring-spawning herring by approx. NOK 380 million in 2011. This is the conclusion of a new report by Nofima scientists who have analysed the Norwegian purse seine fleet.

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The report is part of the CRISP (Centre for Research-based Innovation in Sustainable fish capture and Pre-processing technology) project. The goals of CRISP add value to wild fish stocks and reduce the strain on the environment during the capture and production processes.

“The potential for added value lies primarily in improved quality (size and fat content) of the landings. New technologies that enable the vessel to catch the desired quality and contribute to increasing the prices of the lowest paid deliveries up to the average price will constitute a combined annual increase for mackerel and Norwegian spring-spawning herring of around NOK 50 million,” says Director of Research at Nofima, Bent Dreyer.

Energy consumption

The purse seine fleet is currently the fleet with the lowest energy consumption in relation to catch volume.

The total fuel costs for the entire purse seine fleet were approx. NOK 380 million in 2010. The largest component of the fuel consumption is the distance between the fishing grounds and the point of delivery.

If CRISP can contribute technological solutions that make it easier to locate and catch the desired fish that reduce fuel consumption by 10 per cent, this will constitute an annual saving for the fleet of NOK 38 million.


The size of the purse seine fleet has remained stable at 80 vessels since 2008. Since 2008 there has been no acquisition of quotas for transfer from one vessel to another in this fleet.

Hordaland is Norway’s largest purse seining county with 41 per cent of the rights, followed by Møre og Romsdal and Nordland with 26 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

“The ownership of purse seine licenses is extremely fragmented, and an ownership group (often a family) often owns only one vessel. The 17 largest ownership groups controlled just 51 percent of the rights in 2011. This is a far lower concentration than we find, for instance, in the cod trawling fleet,” says Dreyer.

Average age

The average age of the fleet in 2011 was 18 years compared to 27 years in 1997. In other words, a large proportion of the fleet was renewed between 1995 and 2005.

In 2011, the average vessel was 63 m long, had an engine capacity of 4660 hp and was built in 1994. Consequently, the fleet is currently one of Norway’s most modern.

Catch value

The catch value from the purse seine fleet was around NOK 3 billion annually from 2006 to 2009. In 2010 and 2011 this increased to NOK 4 billion and NOK 5 billion respectively.

Mackerel and Norwegian spring-spawning herring were the two main species and in 2011 these species accounted for 73 per cent of catch revenues.

Fishing for pelagic species is marked by short seasons with intensive fishing followed by periods of inactivity.

“The number of days in operation is declining and in 2011 numbered 173. This indicates that the vessels have a large catch capacity and are extremely efficient. Profitability has been good with an average profit margin of nearly 30 per cent from 2005 to 2010.”

This report is based on figures from the Directorate of Fisheries, which have been analysed by scientists at Nofima.

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