Ladies and gentlemen
I think maybe we have something in common – and that is the love of being at sea. This summer, I have been playing in the waves both in the south of Norway and at Stad. And at the end of the summer we had the opportunity, together with the whole family, to go way up north to Svalbard - which was fantastic.
So why this love for the ocean? Maybe because the sea is not only a place for leisure and income – it also has the ability to connect us with ourselves. Or, in the words of American artist Robert Wyland:
The ocean stirs the heart,
inspires the imagination
and brings eternal joy to the soul.
The ocean is the reason why we are here today. Because the ocean gives us food, ways of transportation, loss and profit. It gives us life.
It is good to be back at Nor-Fishing! 110 years after my great-grandfather, king Haakon 7. opened the Scandinavian fisheries exhibition in 1908, this fair has been a vital venue for the business. Nor-Fishing is of course still a central international meeting place for the fisheries industry.
Settings like this fair is essential for a sector that affects all of us – as individuals, as a nation and as global citizens. The ocean gives us an abundance of valuable benefits. The renewable resources that the seas allow us to harvest, can feed billions.
Approximately 70 % of the planet consists of water. Still, only 2 % of the global food production comes from the ocean. And only 2 % of this amount comes from Norway. Still, we are the world’s second largest seafood exporter. Last year, Norway exported 2,6 million tons of seafood to 140 markets all over the world. That means no less than 36 million of Norwegian seafood meals on the table – every day, the whole year around!
These are large figures, but imagine – the potential is much larger.
According to a report from SINTEF, the Norwegian independent research organization, the estimated value creation from the maritime sector can reach 550 billion in 2050.
Consequently, an increased production and a better utilization of the resources will have an immense impact in the rest of the world and has the potential to improve food security, specifically in developing nations.
However, if we are to realize this tremendous potential, we must make sure that our harvest from the seas is sustainable. We must protect the fisheries resources so that they are not over-exploited, and we must protect the ocean so that it offers a viable habitat for marine life.
Because unfortunately our oceans are not in good shape. Acidification is taking place, threatening coral reefs. Garbage patches as big as small countries float around. Microplastic threaten to damage the marine ecosystem. Each year we are polluting the oceans with more plastic than the year before.
So we must act. Luckily we now see initiatives both here in Norway and internationally. More and more concerned citizens participate in cleaning up our beaches and shores. This is important, and it helps. But there is still a lot of work to be done.
In Norway, we are particularly concerned about the northern regions, the Arctic. This vast expanse is an important part of the ocean ecology that gives us massive food resources. Norway spend large amounts of money on ocean research and the findings will be of enormous value to how we manage these regions in the future.
But it is not only governments who participate in this effort to make our oceans sustainable. The private sector, the fisheries industries of the world – you represented here at Nor-Fishing play of course an import and vital role.
When I was in Svalbard a few weeks ago, I was sitting down close to the ocean. This is way north of the Arctic Circle, quite far away from people, close to the North Pole. And I sit down - and I find plastic amongst the rocks. Quite a lot of plastic. And some of it looks to me as if it comes from fishing vessels...
So that mean that you have a unique possibility to make a difference, to contribute in a very positive way when it comes to the reduction of pollution and plastic waste.
Therefore, I am particularly encouraged to see that many of the exhibitors at this year’s show offer technological solutions that will contribute to sustainable use of marine resources in the future.
It is a great pleasure, and with an optimistic hope for the future, that I declare the Nor-Fishing 2018 exhibition officially open.