Thursday, March 3, 4.36 p.m. CET

China's fishmeal volatility

China's fishmeal imports have been stagnating at about 1 million metric tons annually, said Gorjan Nikolik, senior analyst at Rabobank.

Together with its own production of fishmeal of about 450,000 metric tons -- down from 550,000 metric tons in 2013 -- the market has been relatively flat at 1.4 million metric tons.

So what's the future outlook?

Domestic production "will continue to decline," Nikolik said, stemming from a likely decline in landings and a drop in the processing industry for re-exports.

So does that mean there will be increased demand for imported fishmeal? Not necessarily, Nikolik said.

Pork production is in decline, and the country's shrimp industry is still struggling with diseases and high mortality rates, which could result in a flat to declining production outlook.

But other aquaculture species such as softshell turtles, eels, marine fish including yellow croaker, Japanese seabass and group, as well as freshwater species, however, are fast-growing sectors and on the rise.

"I don’t really know the dynamics in these sectors, but these are good and emerging industries with good demand," Nikolik said.

In summary, demand for imported fishmeal will not likely decline but "we do expect volatility."

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 4.14 p.m. CET

Norway Seafood looks to build snow crab business

Norway Seafood is expecting a revelation in snow crab, and is pushing for new product development to make the most of it and create value.

At the moment, 80 percent of Norway Seafood’s revenue is driven by cod, but since it is located in the north of Norway, it buys all species landed which includes snow and king crab.

“I expect there will be a revelation in snow crab,” said Morten Jensen, sales and marketing director primary processing at Norway Seafood Group. “But there is not much product development at the moment.”

Around 9,352 metric tons of snow crab live weight was landed in Norway in 2015 worth about NOK 245.2 million. However, while the major value lies in live crab, 80 percent of this is frozen at sea into clusters.

But there are many other opportunities – “it is a new high value product,” said Jensen.

There is a large biomass, it is a year round activity, there are established markets and new ones to be developed while at the same time it can potentially create value for the local industry.

However, at the moment the distance to the fishing grounds is far and with minimum prices to the fishermen at NOK 20 in 2016, not worth the trip to land live crab.

"The industry on shore has to increase the price it pays to the boats to the point where it pays to land crab and now process it," said Jensen.

There are also price pressures from Russia and logistical, handling and distributional challenges in terms of the fishermen being properly equipped to transport the crab at the correct temperatures.

As a result much of what is caught is sold as frozen at sea blocks which have less value. Jensen wants to change this.

“At the moment there is no problem selling the high value live product, there are markets, it is a problem getting the raw material to shore.”

“Snow crab can create more income, create more jobs, only 1,800 are landed live – only 20 percent of total catch - I want to see more live crab landed in Norway.”

Also if the industry wants to get more product development it needs to get the live raw material on shore first as well.

As a result, there also needs to be investment in suitable equipment on vessels – or perhaps the pelagic fleets can get involved in the quiet summer months, said Jensen, as they already have equipped vessels.

-- Dominic Welling


Thursday, March 3, 3.41 p.m. CET

It's all about the marketing

The whitefish panel at this morning's session had one clear message to the industry: We need to get better at marketing and about telling our story.

When asked by IntraFish's Drew Cherry what the single most important thing is to increase consumption, everyone agreed it was marketing, market insight and "understanding your consumer," as Sigurdur Olason, managing director of Marel’s Fish Industry Center, put it.

Arni Geir Palsson, CEO of Icelandic Group, agreed, telling the audience the group's iconic -- and very successful -- The Saucy Fish brand is based on that.

"It's classical market research done well," he said.

Mike Breivik, CEO of Glacier Fish Company, said in addition seafood integrity and "truthful labeling" also needs to be put on the agenda.

"It's important for all of us as an industry to provide a good and clean product."

Andrey Teterkin of Russian Fishery said there is one advantage. "We don’t need to cook up a story, we already have it in place.

"We need to get the message across."

Key is to not assume that customers know the "same things we know...they don't know the value of our product.

"Marketing is a no-brainer – we need to help them understand that value," he told the audience.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 3.39 p.m. CET

Promising signs for King crab meal in salmon feed

At the moment most king and snow crabs are exported as ‘processed cluster’ but as volumes increase and prices go down, the industry will have to consider new product developments.

So what about things such as fish meal for salmon or starter feed for crustaceans? These are some of the things being looked into by researchers from Nofima.

According to Ragnhild Whitaker, a scientist at Nofima, as little as 2 percent of King Crab meal in dry salmon feed is already proving to improve the growth of salmon.

There are also many products that can be formed from King and Snow Crab housing, she said. This includes fish sauce from gills, chitin and chitosan, bait attractant, enzymes for bioprocessing, omega 3 oil for food or feed, and protein and peptide products.

But of course these all need to undergo the ‘valley of death’, meaning passing the test of turning research innovation into viable commercialization.

--Dominic Welling


Thursday, March 3 3.30 p.m. CET

Learning to live with El Nino

Peru's anchovy industry has "learned to live with El Nino," Rossana Ortiz, CEO at fishing firm Exalmar, said.

The cycle returns about every five to eight years, she said, resulting in major difficulties for commercial and artisanal fishing vessels -- as the past years have shown.

"Right now we are the end of the phenomenon and we expect normal conditions for this year," Ortiz said optimistically.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 3.10 p.m. CET

Processing shifts in Namibia's pelagic sector

Namibia's pilchard stock levels are "worryingly low," Hermanus Kasper, chairman at the Atlantic Sea Products in Namibia, told delegates this afternoon.

Landings declined from around 31,700 metric tons in 2011 to about 23,000 last year.

The total allowable catch (TAC), which was still at 25,000 metric tons in 2015, is set at 14,000 metric tons this year.

"It's a very interesting dynamic," he said, with supplies steadily dropping over the past years.

To compensate, the ministry is now banking on horse mackerel: it developed a management plan to move away from a fishery just controlled by vessels processing and freezing at sea to "adding value on shore."

Five percent of the horse mackerel TAC must now be canned every year, providing longer-term employment for factory workers, which were previously limited to the seasonal pilchard fishery.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 2.55 p.m. CET

Norway introduces changes to its pelagic auctions

The Norway Sales Organization for Pelagic Fish is looking to reinvent the way it is doing business, its CEO Paul Oma told the audience at NASF during the pelagic panel this afternoon.

"Our goal is to continuously develop the market place," he said.

In October, the organization, which had a turnover of about NOK 6.92 billion in 2015, introduced a "dynamic minimum price" model, moving away from fixed minimum prices, which "created uncertainty" in the market and gave some buyers a "competitive advantage" over others.

The new system is fixing the minimum price at a fraction of the market prices and is changing every week.

"We believe this system reduces risk for both customers and also fishermen," Oma said, adding it also reduces the risk of having "very cheap product in the market."

The plan is to introduce the dynamic minimum price for all the major species at the organization's auctions.

"There are many risks in the market and we cannot do much about it," he said. This includes the Russian ban factor, huge financial uncertainties, currency restrictions, and political unrest in countries such as the Ukraine and Nigeria.

"But what we can do is to reduce the risk of sudden changes in prices and enhance predictability."

Therefore, the organization is looking to go even further and is planning to develop a market for forward contracts too.

According to Oma, this will reduce risk and enhance predictability.

This would be a vertical coordination in the pelagic value chain: Fishermen would be allowed to auction part of their quotas for future delivery, he said.

"We hope these new ideas show that we are indeed concerned about creating value to both our customers and our fishermen," Oma said.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 2.10 p.m. CET

Pelagic supply for human consumption to fall 5% in 2016

Market research firm Kontali is predicting a 5 percent drop in pelagic catches for direct human consumption this year, according to Analyst Gunn Strandheim.

The drop will come from species such as mackerel, capelin and blue whiting, she said, describing a "downward trend" in the global supply outlook for them.

Nevertheless, there is "continued strong demand" in all main markets for mackerel, as well as herring.

Prices are expected to remain strong but vulnerable due to fluctuating currency rates.

Overall, the global supply of pelagic species -- including for fishmeal and fish oil -- will see an increase of 4 percent this year, up from the 21.3 million metric tons last year, assuming there is a "normal" anchovies season in Peru, she said.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 11.56 a.m. CET

The new gold in the Barents Sea

Snow crab could soon become the most important fishery in the Barents Sea, after cod, according to Sten Siikavuopio, a senior scientist from Nofima.

First observed in the Barent’s Sea in 1996, Norway landings of snow crab started in 2012 and indications suggest there is a potential for annual catches to reach between 25,000 and 75,000 metric tons within the next ten years.

However, ultimately potential catches could range between 50,000 and 170,000 annually, said Siikavuopio.

In 2015, though, snow crab landings in Norway amounted to 9,800 metric tons worth NOK 228 million. While there were only 3 vessels fishing in 2013, this increased to 23 vessels in 2015 and a further 15 are to get permission this year.

According to Siikavuopio, the average price to fishermen at the moment is NOK 26 per kilo, while the export prices are at around NOK 60 per kilo.

The main export markets from Norwegian snow crab are Japan, South Korea, USA and EU.

--Dominic Welling


Thursday, March 3, 11.52 a.m. CET

How does the UK cod consumer tick?

That's for sure a question many Norwegian and Icelandic suppliers of cod and haddock want to get answers to.

Jack-Robert Moller, director at the Norwegian Seafood Council in the UK, provided some answers.

What we do know is that the country consumes about one fourth of all cod supplied to the European Union, which has been "relatively stable" in recent years.

But when cod prices rise by 1 percent, the quantity bought drops by 1.85 percent. The impact of price changes in the United Kingdom is actually larger than in Portugal, he said.

Who would have thought?

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 11.47 a.m. CET

A new acronym emerges

It doesn't have the same ring as "ABB" -- anything but blocks -- but the new mantra in the Russian pollock sector is ABHG: Anything But Headed & Gutted.

As a result, the product mix in Russia's pollock production is shifting more and more toward frozen-at-sea fillets, and there is no sign of slow down.

Though volumes are still small, "the growth rate is staggering," said Andrey Teterkin, CEO of Russian Fishery.

"[Russian companies] are looking for every possible way not to produce H&G."

--Drew Cherry


Thursday, March 3, 11.33 a.m. CET

Pangasius' biggest challenges

Vietnam's pangasius production is looking back at a somewhat "strange year," Jose Gonzalez Vecino, senior scientist at Ewos Innovation, told the audience at the whitefish session Thursday morning.

The industry today is worth around $1.56 billion, producing 1.1 million metric tons last year. However, value declined by 11 percent throughout 2015, he said.

The biggest challenges? There are four, Gonzalez Vecino said, including trade barriers, unhealthy competition among pangasius producers which compromises quality, volatile exchange rates and competition with other fish species such as pollock, cod, hake, tilapia and haddock.

So there needs to be a change, he said.

The industry is currently making an effort to restructure and consolidate, and exports will be reduced this year. There are also initiatives to improve the species quality, including the VietGAP common standard.

Around 50 percent of all farmers are now certified, he said.

Product diversification also opens up new opportunities, including in the fish oil and beauty market, Gonzalez Vecino told the audience.

All this will eventually result in trust and cooperation along the value chain, he believes.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 11:14 a.m. CET

Coldwater shrimp: Industry needs to differentiate

There is a need to move away from treating coldwater shrimp as a commodity, and instead differentiate the offering.

After price, both consumers and chefs seek quality when choosing coldwater shrimp, and research has discovered this comes in the form of hand peeled shrimp rather than machine peeled.

Quality is about appearance, freshness, taste and "mouthfeelings".

“We know there is an opportunity there to differentiate,” said, Lise Lotte Callesoe York, category director at Royal Greenland.

“It is just about doing it and heading in the direction of quality,” she said.

With all time high raw material prices on coldwater shrimp, prices for the final product have gone up, but the product remains exactly the same.

And while there is the danger of hitting a price ceiling, York believes there is a way to break through this, through innovation.

“We have a product that is so nice, so we can beat the ceiling, but we need to make it an even better product for chefs and consumer.

“They have seen prices go up without us doing anything, it is exactly the same product in exactly the same packaging, so the price is linked to raw material not product innovation.”

According to York the best way for the consumer to eat coldwater shrimp is “hands on” and as close to the original as possible.

“Every time we try to add value we take quality out but add to cost – it’s a hands on product, and that’s the dilemma – we need to get the consumer to eat like Vikings with their hands, that is the best experience.”

-- Dominic Welling


Thursday, March 3, 10:34 a.m. CET

Flat expectations for 2016 Pacific whiting TAC

The decision on the US Pacific whiting total allowable catch (TAC) is expected to be made in about four to five weeks, Mike Breivik, CEO at Glacier Fish Company, said.

Managed together with Canada, negotiations on the 2016 quota just started.

It is expected to remain flat at about 440,000 metric tons, he said.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 10.28 a.m. CET

Market shifts continue for Alaska pollock

US suppliers of Alaska pollock core products saw some major shifts in recent years in terms of markets, Mike Breivik, CEO of Glacier Fish Company, said Thursday morning.

Production of blocks, both fillets and mince, is down by more than 9,000 metric tons. More than 50 percent are still exported, mainly into Europe, which however has been facing "numerous challenges."

The market in the United States remained robust, he said.

Surimi production on the other hand has been up almost 19,000 metric tons, or 10 percent. Demand continues to be strong in Japan and the European Union, where a number of new surimi products have been launched.

In addition, new markets in South Korea and other Asian countries are opening up, Breivik said.

The roe market, which is a "crucial income source for the industry," has been facing challenges in its main market Japan, which is in "bad need of rejuvenation."

Revenue is down by about $80 million over the last four years, Breivik said, also because the yield dropped "probably" under 2.5 percent. 

The H&G market is also down 28 percent, mainly on weak market demand.

Fishmeal and fish oil in Asia and in the domestic US market are increasing in importance to the industry, Breivik said, and is becoming a strong contributor to financial performance.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 10.21 a.m. CET

Hitting the mainstream

The rise of American themed restaurants in the UK is boosting the market for premium shellfish in the country, according to Mike Berthet, director of fish and seafood at M&J Seafoods.

But not only are companies such as Burger & Lobster growing the market for things such as lobster and crab, they are also making it more affordable and attainable.

This is predominantly because they lower costs by “cutting out the middlemen” such as distributors like M&J Seafoods.

These American themed restaurants are setting up tanks and hubs at UK airports and bringing in the product direct from Maine in the USA and Canada.

“They’ve made it mainstream,” said Berthet. And good supplies of lobster open up the market even further. M&J now distributes 2,500 lobsters per week - 1,000 of which go to Loch Fyne restaurants, but other restaurants are starting to follow suit.

And then there are new product forms as well such as lobster sliders, and lobster mac and cheese.

Nevertheless, it is still heavily price driven and when that price goes past a ceiling, it will be taken off menu.

-- Dominic Welling


Thursday, March 3, 10.11 a.m. CET

Shellfish: It’s all good news

There is a very good market space for shellfish in UK foodservice, and it is only likely to grow, says Mike Berthet, director of fish and seafood at M&J Seafoods.

“It’s all good news,” he said. “Shellfish is the place to be in European foodservice.”

Fresh, live shellfish is still considered better than frozen even though there is a price limit.

In particular there is plenty of room to grow sales of snow crab, lobster, and coldwater shrimps if done right, he said.

“Shellfish still a mystery to most cooks at home in terms of how to prepare it and cook it, hence they it when they go out, so we are in a good market space.”

Additionally, there is a reasonably good supply of shellfish – particularly scallops, king crab, lobster – with a high market value.

Canadian snow crab is especially buoyant at the moment and a good opportunity for the UK, said Berthet, particularly through the growth in American themed restaurants, and driven by the younger generation.

“There is a wide open market space… they will pick up and run with shellfish if delivered in their format.”

But the key is to be innovative on how to deliver these products in a way the consumer can deal with them – so value added is the way forward, making it easier and ready to eat.

“Prepped and value added is the where the processor needs to be – 33.5 million kilograms of live lobster was processed by Canada last year from the USA alone,” said Berthet.

“As ‘proper’ chefs become rarer to find on the High Street – the processor will need to do more.”

The market is growing and will continue unabated as shellfish is considered sophisticated, healthy and a tasty alternative to other mainstream seafood, said Berthet.

-- Dominic Welling


Thursday, March 3, 10.08 a.m. CET

Brace for the Russian reduction

Russia's pollock supply is going down, if scientists are on track.

According to Andrey Teterkin, CEO of Russian Fishery, the forecast for the total allowable catch (TAC) in 2017 is forecast to fall by 14 percent overall, dropping from 1.52 million metric tons to 1.3 million metric tons. The Sea of Okhotsk alone will dip by 17 percent.

Recovery is expected, however, by between 2018-2020.

--Drew Cherry


Thursday, March 3, 9.46 a.m. CET

Whitefish processing: Where to?

The global whitefish processing industry will be facing changes in the years to come in terms of its trade flows -- no rapid change, as Arni Geir Palsson, CEO of Icelandic Group, said, but definite change.

Currently around 2.5 million metric tons of whitefish are traveling the world "just like that." But higher labor cost, higher oil prices, higher interest rates, currency fluctuations and technological changes will be triggering this shift.

But where to?

In the short term, Palsson believes, the industry might see processing centers moving partly from Asia to countries with low labor cost closer to the markets, such as Poland and southern Spain.

In the long "high-tech driven processing centers" could start popping up in Europe -- possibly in Grimsby, the United Kingdom, in Germany, as well as on the east coast in the United States, he told delegates.

"It will change, by how much, I don’t know. Will it be 1.5 or 2 million metric tons? I don’t know. But it will be an interesting development in the next few years," Palsson said.

Better yields and shorter lead times will speak for themselves.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 3, 9.30 a.m. CET

Cod is king (for now)

Ragnar Nystoyl, CEO of market watcher Kontali, gave attendees at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum whitefish session an overview of the state of the key species in 2015.

The cod industry has been the big winner over the past two years, with fresh whole cod prices from Norway rising 28 percent in euro terms over the past two years.

Fresh fillets, meanwhile, were up 22 percent.

Reasons behind it include not only hot demand, but of course, global currency

“It’s not a crime being lucky, and the weak Norwegian kroner may be the most important driver behind all the smiling faces you see,” Nystoyl said.

--Drew Cherry


Wednesday, March 2, 5.05 p.m. CET

MSC to introduce social components into standard

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is looking to introduce social criteria into its standard from 2017.

Speaking on a panel, Camiel Derichs, regional director Europe at MSC, said the MSC program will expand and incorporate issues such as forced labor and slavery within its criteria. "But not only this, but also issues such as health and safety and whether fishermen have a union etc."

The MSC will launch its new strategic plan in 2017 and currently has an "active stream working on developing social components into the standard," said Derichs.

--Dominic Welling


Wednesday, March 2, 4.57 p.m. CET

More acquisitions on the agenda for Cargill

Cargill will continue to look at investments in aquaculture, Einar Wathne, president of  Cargill Aqua Nutrition, told the audience this afternoon.

“For this new entity it will be a lot about growth,” he said.

“We do not believe in this feed sector that Cargill has made its last acquisition. We’ll make more acquisitions as time goes on.”

Driving this is Cargill’s passion to become a driving entity in the sector, he said.

--Elisabeth Fischer




Wednesday, March 2, 4.48 p.m. CET

Growth and product innovation will keep sector strong

Pareto Securities’ Henning Lund called for more production in his outlook for the salmon market this afternoon.

While acknowledging as a general rule that higher supply is damaging to prices, in the current salmon production climate, Henning believes more production is in order. “We need more fish,” he said.

He also harked back to the product innovation the fresh pre-packed salmon sector in Germany – and also Spain – that Marine Harvest’s Ola Brattvoll mentioned earlier, reflecting that this needs to be taking place in all salmon markets.

Despite this, the analyst concluded that the salmon sector is a buy, as salmon farmers will solve sustainability issues and develop new attractive consumer products.

-- Rachel Mutter

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Wednesday, March 2, 4.10 p.m. CET

Fresh salmon opportunities in Asia

Asia and the Middle East are and will remain growth markets for Atlantic salmon, especially on fresh, Klaus Hatlebrekke, COO at Norway Royal Salmon, said.

Especially raw consumption is driving a “positive underlying demand in Asia,” he said, despite a relatively stable volume development between 2014 and 2015.

The growing demand for fresh is playing into Norway’s hands, he said, which has a strong position in fresh products.

But hurdles remain both in Greater China and Indonesia, mainly due to political issues and trade restrictions.

“A political solution is needed towards China and Indonesia,” Hatlebrekke said.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Wednesday, March 2, 3.55 p.m. CET

UK foodservice market undergoing massive change

Opportunities are rife for seafood in UK foodservice, but the onus is on making sure you source the right, legal and certified products, according to Mike Berthet, purchasing director at M&J Seafood.

The UK High Street is changing and what’s significant is the caliber of restaurant chains being launched, he said.

There is everything from a general eating posts to something a bit more expensive while there are “new kids on the block” pushing the limits, taking Michelin starred menus and delivering them on the High Street with Michelin starred chefs, so this is “a massive change,” he said.

There is also the rise of things like sushi and other fusion foods, while many new seafood restaurants are opening up along the coast.

“Stay close to a more rapidly changing market place in the High Street, and be prepared to achieve more exacting specifications, get creative, restaurant chains will want individuality.”

All of this means opportunities for seafood, and not just traditional species but also more exotic items such as sea cucumber and cod belly, he said.

“Our role is to beat the butcher to the menu slot,” said Berthet.

Additionally, with more people eating out there are many more mouths to feed. Fresh fish is still making the running but there is room also now for new high quality single flash frozen which can be control defrosted as well as traditional frozen.

Also, street food is making its mark in London, as well as more and more themes are coming into the market – “a whole lot of American burger lobster and hickory smoke restaurants, plus an influx of combination flavors of South East Asia.”

Meanwhile, more independent restaurants are morphing into groups – “in 10 years time, or sooner, groups will own the High Street, with bigger and better restaurants than we have seen to date.”

However, sourcing the right seafood is the ultimate priority.

Wild will have to come with some validated certification scheme like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as well as aquaculture products  will have to come with certification such as BAP, GAP, or ASC.

“All products will need some sort of certification to be both sustainable and ethical.”

-- Dominic Welling


Wednesday, March 2, 3.34 p.m. CET

Sustainably gaining influence with consumers

Two out of three (66 percent) consumers will pay more for sustainable products or brands who commit to sustainability, according to Jean-Jacques Vandenheede retail director at the Nielsen Company, Belgium.

The research found the main driver for people buying seafood is firstly that it comes from a brand or company that is trusted. Then came health benefits, freshness, but after these the research found 45 percent of consumers want to buy from a company known for being environmentally friendly. Additionally, 43 percent want to know the product is from a company known for its commitment to social values.

"So consumers care and will pay extra for sustainability and for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact," said Vandenheede.

In addition, 42 percent of global consumers want more new products in the market that are socially responsible and environmentally friendly.

And companies are responding, said Vandenheede.

"Globally the number of concepts with sustainable claims tested are growing – 7 percent of all concepts tested have sustainable positioning, up 3 percent.”

Brands that commit to sustainability are outperforming their counterparts who do not and are seeing 4 percent greater sales as a result.

“Consumers more than care, it’s an expectation,” Vandenheede said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, March 2, 3.32 p.m. CET

Time for some German-style innovation in the US salmon market

The US market needs a dose of German innovation to reach its fresh salmon consumption potential, according to Marine Harvest COO Ola Brattvoll, who gave delegates a journey through salmon market introduction in this afternoon’s salmon session.

The German fresh salmon market was pretty steady at 500-700 metric tons consumption per year for many years, but then rocketed to 10 times that volume between 2012 to 2015, now hitting close to 7,000 tons per year.


The key? Product innovation, with a focus on making products that German consumers know how to prepare and to eat based on their experience with meat and poultry.

The US market, at the other end of the scale, saw rapid growth up to 2005, with Chilean producers innovating well in the market, but then it stopped and consumption stagnated, stuck at around 350,000 metric tons for the last few years.

The path to market gives clues as to why this happens with Brattvoll explaining the transition in any new market from fine dining to traditional distribution channels and on to retail.

-- Rachel Mutter


Wednesday, March 2, 3.15 p.m. CET

Chile plans salmon marketing push

The Chilean salmon industry is in “serious” discussions for a new initiative to market its salmon, Jose Ramon Gutierrez, chairman at Multiexport, said.

The proposal is to create a private-public salmon marketing board, and to create a strong marketing fund to finance initiatives of the board.

Companies would contribute to the fund based on a percentage of their sales, while the government’s contribution would be based on the industry’s contribution, he said.

Gutierrez, and the industry, expect an expansion of existing markets, the development of new markets and to shorten the price gap with products from other markets.

“This idea is still in progress,” he said, but industry backing is there.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 2, 3.07 p.m. CET

Moving sustainabilty from niche to norm

Whatever's sustainable today won’t be tomorrow and the world is dealing with issues of scale and speed people haven’t taken into account yet, said Jason Clay, director of WWF in the USA.

"It is time to wake up to the fact that production of food is the biggest threat to the planet… we need to work out how to produce the same amount of food in next 40 years for next 8,000 so we need to intensify production more sustainably," he said.

By 2050 there will be many more people consuming, twice as much food -- but with a lot less resources.

“Every kilo of every food product that we use has to be produced with 62 percent less resources,” Clay said.

And aquaculture is where we are going to get increased production, he added. It has surpassed wild catch already and recently surpassed beef production as well.

The world can get an extra 10-20 million metric tons from improved management and 20-25 million metric tons by reducing waste in seafood. To meet demand, though, aquaculture has to grow more than 5 percent per annum for the next 16 years.

But there is seafood available now that is not being utilized, Clay noted. Around 52 percent of seafood is wasted either through by-catch, inefficient processing or other means.

“The focus has to be on productivity, efficiency, waste and consumption,“ said Clay.

But sustainability is not just about maximizing one thing but optimizing several things.

Fisheries must be rebuilt through fisheries improvement projects, for example, and the industry must find ways to use fishmeal and fish oil more efficiently and produce it more sustainably.

“Fishmeal and fish oil is the only limiting factor to expand aquaculture,” said Clay. And then there is climate change and numerous issues with illegality, IUU fishing, for example.

But ultimately, sustainability in 20th century is a pre-competitive issue, said Clay. Working together is fundamental and “we must move sustainability from niche to norm.”

-- Dominic Welling


Wednesday, March 2, 3.05 p.m. CET

Chile expects 13% salmon production drop due to algae bloom

Chile’s losses from the recent algae bloom it’s been suffering could have a massive impact on total salmon output this year and beyond, Jose Ramon Gutierrez, chairman of Multiexport, revealed this afternoon.

“We expect a very flat production in the next five years,” he told the audience.

The harvest projection pre-algae bloom for 2016 where at 590,000 metric tons for Atlantic salmon, but this has been revised to 520,000 to 540,000 metric tons WFE, he said – down a whopping 13 percent. 

Production is expected to remain flat into 2017, he said, with total Atlantic salmon harvest projected at 510,000 to 540,000 metric tons.

Total salmonid production, including coho and trout, could be down 13 percent to 740,000 to 760,000 metric tons this year, and decline a further 1 percent next year, Gutierrez said.

“Right now we’ve been living very hard days,” he told the audience.

The algae bloom reported since this Sunday in neighborhood number two has put 25 million fish at risk. “The risk of mortalities is very high.”

 “According to the last information we’re expecting a loss of 12-15 million fish. And it could be larger, depending on what happens this week,” he said.


--Elisabeth Fischer


Wednesday, March 2, 2.49 p.m. CET

There’s the good news… and the bad news

Investment in the international salmon industry in the last five years has been booming with an estimated NOK 18-20 billion Capex investment in the last four years; a development that has been a "bonanza" for salmon farming industry’s service industries, resulting in average weight of smolt releases going up 40 percent, for example.

But – and here comes the downside -- there has been very little production growth, with joint production across the two biggest producers, Norway and Chile, rising just 0.5 percent in the last four years (with adjustments for the recent algal bloom losses), according to Kontali’s Lars Liabo.

This implies a significant increase in production costs, which has luckily been buffered by strong prices, but the question remains, where will the growth be?

‘I don’t think the regulation system in Norway will allow considerable production growth in the next five years; and in Chile it will probably be lower, so in my opinion it is hard to see how we’ll get more Atlantic salmon to market,” said Liabo.

Luckily, despite higher prices, salmon fillets appear generally to be remaining within safe realms of competitivity against other proteins, with prices in the French market between week 40 last year and week 7 this year rising 26 percent for salmon fillets against 20 percent for Label Rouge chicken fillets, 15 percent for pork chops and 13 percent for beef steak.

With a new production prognosis for 2016 of 2.2 million metric tons, Liabo points out, ending his presentation on a positive note, that reduced production worldwide will make all producers more profitable.

-- Rachel Mutter

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Wednesday, March 2, 12.33 p.m. CET

Retailers call for packaging innovation

The fish segment is in "desperate need for innovation packaging-wise at a retail level," said Julien Mahieu of Belgian retailer Delhaize, at this morning's retail panel.

"I've been following my meat colleagues, they're innovating, extending the shelf life and bragging about it."

Extending the shelf life of fish would be key, he said, due to the shift to less shopping trips.

Herve Streifer of Metro in Germany agreed, telling the audience, "the way we are selling the fish today, at least in Germany, is the same as 20 years ago."

It is received in a Styrofoam box, he said, adding Metro needs and wants to innovate.

-- Elisabeth Fischer


Wednesday, March 2, 12.15 p.m. CET

‘We fished it’

Romain Fageot, project manager at Scapeche, which is the fishing arm of French retailer Intermarche, made a case for vertical integration at a retail level.

“We can tell our customers ‘We fished it. We fished the product we’re selling to you,’” he said.

Intermarche is trying to offer its products to consumers at reasonable prices, he said, but “we have something more to tell them.

“This gives us great responsibility,” he told the audience.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 2, 12.00 p.m. CET

Creator of your own destiny

There is a shift happening in retail in the EU which is placing the consumer more in control, warned Jean-Jacques Vandenheede, retail insight director at the Nielsen Company in Belgium.

“We are moving from a system where markets were in control to a market where the consumer is in control from all kinds of dimension,” said Vandenheede.

Not least because of the digital explosion and rise of online shopping which is seeing “fundamental changes in behavior happening,” he said.

There is clearly a shift happening, which is seeing the disappearance of traditional retail formats and a move towards online and convenience, and the seafood sector needs to get on this bandwagon.

“In order to drive change in the share of online grocery shopping, the weight of novelty has to be heavier than the weight of inertia and habit, otherwise nothing happens.

“So far the weight of novelty is not enough.”

But online sales is not a natural extension of the brick and mortar model, either. It is a new model with different drivers, and will require re-invention.

Online retail is about enabling simplicity inside complexity the complex work bringing product from someone who manufactures them to someone who wants them.

And for the consumer today – unlimited choice is the norm.

“We are shifting from a supply chain to a demand chain. You all still think in terms of supply chain. Where the system will respond to what consumers want.

“By eliminating cost components, eliminating intermediaries in order to lower the price, there is consumer value through more choice and convenience. Then the weight of novelty becomes heavier than weight of inertia.”

He cited the “butler model” whereby companies such as Fresh Direct, Go Fresh, bring locally sourced produce straight to the consumer’s fridge, which is a potential route.

There are also market place aggregators such as ASOS in fashion.

“This is online, how can that be relevant to your business, that’s for you to find out- I have no idea. But the consumer is getting used to online and is waiting.”

It is the shift from supply chain to demand chain – it is about making it shorter, faster and cheaper. The age of the masses is over, it is the age of individuals – cater to the individual rather than the masses.

“This is not turbulence, that’s a trend. Play with it or ignore it, it’s up to you, you will be the creator of you own destiny.”

-- Dominic Welling


Wednesday, March 2, 10.20 a.m. CET

Keys to the future

Arni Mathiesen, assistant director general for the Fisheries and Aquaculture department of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), took out his crystal ball and offered attendees an outlook for the world seafood trade through the next 15 years.

For starters, Mathiesen said the industry is expanding from a point of strength.

With fisheries landing levels in developing countries declining and overfishing levels holding stable, presumably from better trans-national agreements and improvement management, signals are that in general things are improving in fisheries, and new statistics to be released next year may show further improvements in the rates of overfishing.

The biggest change in fishing is the “center of gravity” has changed from developed to developing countries, which poses unique challenges.

Aquaculture, meanwhile, will continue its massive expansion. China has of course driven this grwoth, as well as other parts of Asia to a lesser extent, but the industry is showing no signs it has reached a ceiling, even if aquaculture growth rates have slowed.

“Americas, Europe and Africa still have great potential to grow,” Mathiesen said.

Consumption of seafood has been driving up both prices and production, another great development.

One head scratcher -- the proportion of seafood trade has actually been declining, from 37 percent to just over 35 percent. What’s behind that remains a bit unclear, but it could indicate that countries are keeping more of their catch in-country.

The overall supply needs to meet growing demand in 2030 are projected at 250 million metric tons, up from the 150 million metric tons that is produced today.

“We believe it’s possible to meet these demands,” Mathiesen said.

Reaching all these positive goals, though, will depend on continued improvement in management and governance – especially in developing countries. And, of course, sustainable growth in aquaculture.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, March 2, 10.10 a.m. CET

Sustainable fisheries from harvest to market

UNIDO has a vision to help achieve sustainable fisheries globally from harvest to market, but this can only be achieved through global partnerships, said the organization’s director general Li Yong.

UNIDO is the agency of UN which specializes in the transfer of innovations, skills, technology, and solutions to enhance industrial activity, and investment around the globe.

Seafood is a perfect sector where it can promote market linkages, and help create investment partnerships between countries with abundant resources, said Li Yong.

“Seafood industries are an obvious priority due to trans boundary nature of resources,” he said.

One such method is the public private partnership (PPP) approach, which is a good way to help developing middle income states improve investment flows.

UNIDO hopes to promote the sharing and transfer of knowledge, technology and skills to help developing countries generate wealth and food creation but also help to preserve important resources in blue economy.

“Seafood in some developing countries is worth 30 percent of GDP yet value chains are some times fragmented – global supply requires mapping of industrial chains from fishing to processing to marketing to consumption and environmental impact.”

UNIDO can also help realize efficient value chains, and stabilize the exploitation pressure on a fragile ecosystem and diminish exploitation of resources.

“We need a renewed co-operation driven by industry. By establish a global partnership which promotes sustainable fisheries development.”

-- Dominic Welling


Wednesday, March 2, 9.47 a.m. CET

Sharing is caring

Co-operation and knowledge sharing is essential to form a sustainable future for the European seafood industry, said Commissioner for Fisheries Karmenu Vella, EU Commission via video link at this morning’s session.

The EU has of course set an agenda to manage its own fish stocks sustainably by 2020 at the latest, but with 60 percent of the EU’s fish consumption coming from imports, Vella said the EU was ‘determined’ to import only legally caught fish.

"But there is only so much the EU can do on its own," said Vella, prompting him to reach out to international partners last year. The resulting report highlight gaps "that are a risk," said Vella.

Vella’s message? That more co-operation is needed. “How can we manage oceans sustainability of knowledge is not there and not shared?”

-- Rachel Mutter


Tuesday, March 2, 9.24 a.m. CET

Norwegian minister: Market access, innovation a top priority

Market access for Norwegian seafood is the "top priority" for the Norwegian fisheries ministry "and for me," Per Sandberg, the country's fisheries minister, told delegates during his keynote speech Wednesday morning.

This, he said, is based on "three main pillars," including the World Trade Organisation (WTO), free trade agreements and the European Union.

He also said the country's trade policy is "driven toward" the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which will give "Norway and the industry both opportunities but also challenges."

In addition, Norway is working on completing FTA negotiations with Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, Sandberg said.

"Free trade of seafood is the government’s objective with all FTA’s," he told the NASF audience.

Norway will also continue to push for better market access in the EU, but "this is a complex issue."

Sandberg also said innovation, and a science-based approach will be key for the industry's competitiveness in the future, whether farmed or wild.

"Research and innovation and industry participation is important to reach blue growth," Sandberg said.

He called on companies to "strengthen their participation" in driving research and innovation forward.

"The potential for value creation is significant," he said.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, March 1, 7.54 p.m. CET

Size does matter

The seafood industry in Norway, and around the globe, is growing rapidly but there is a lot more growth to come, according to Madeleine Bjornestad, from Pareto Securities Corporate Finance.

Since 2005 the seafood industry in Norway alone has grown from NOK 16 billion to NOK 127 billion today.

At the moment the industry consists of much smaller, less integrated companies – but the future will be the opposite and will require a lot of capital investment.

“It’s going to need capital investment to grow – but we should focus on building larger, more integrated and lower risk companies,” said Bjornestad.

For example, what is Marine Harvest’s success factor? Size.

“Size creates flexibility, size reduces risk, size gives a company strong purchasing power,” said Bjornestad.

But it is not just Marine Harvest that proves this point – you just need to look at the likes of AquaGen, Pharmaq, Salmobreed, Cargill/Ewos, Mitsubishi/Cermaq as just some examples.

-- Dominic Welling


Tuesday, March 1, 7.15 p.m. CET

Future challenges of a growing industry

In a 40 under 40 session at the Young Leadership Summit this afternoon, three panelists shared their insights on the challenges they believe the industry will face in the future.

David Parker, head of corporate social sustainability at Young’s Seafood, said businesses in the sector need to get better at embracing technical innovation.

The development in terms of new technology is "fast-moving" and "we need to bring this into the blue revolution" and apply it "to the way we do business," he said. 

Michael Fairman SVP business development at Bumble Bee Foods, said one takeaway from the past 10 years is that aquaculture growth has to be pursued strategically and sustainably.

Carl Johan Sandberg, group quality manager at Ocean Quality, believes the aquaculture industry in general "needs to be more visible" to attract young people and do a better job at telling its story.

"We can’t hide any more," he told the audience.

-- Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 1, 6.19 p.m. CET

Globalization is here to stay

Globalization of networks is driving businesses all over the world, and global exports volume is now worth $4,333,490,000,000.

Norway’s share of this is 3 percent or $154,912,000,000,  and much of this is driven by leaders.

Speaking on global leadership and how companies and countries can accelerate sustainable business transformation, Jan Kjetil Arnulf from the BI Norwegian Business School, said globalization has come to stay and it is undeniable that the more tied into the rest of the world a country is, the better its economy fares.

“Being connected through trade, finance, immigrants, cross border data streaming, is key,” said Arnulf.

But cross border sharing of leaders is also massively important.

Does money flow by itself, asked Arnulf, or because decisions made by people? “It all happens because of actions,” he said.

Leadership is about being accountable in face of big uncertainties.

Nevertheless, 30-40 percent of the variation in company performance is due to individual leadership, said Arnulf.

This represents $49,571,000,000 in the Norwegian trade.

“Leadership is like knowledge only partly transferable across borders.

“Sending people out comes with a cost, they will do mistakes, but if not will miss great opportunities to navigate where great things take place.”

-- Dominic Welling


Tuesday, March 1, 5.34 p.m. CET

The new standard

What does it take to be successful today? Greg Duerksen, president at recruitment agency Kincannon Reed, had some valuable tips for tomorrow's seafood leaders.

The new standard, he said, includes nurturing a "superior and focused work ethic," and learning to think completely -- both strategically and tactically.

That second point includes cultivating an insatiable curiosity, understanding and embracing the uncertain and drive it to the black and white, and be both clever and wise.

In addition, future leaders need to develop a "keen self-awareness," which includes a balanced ego to capability skills, and to develop "superior communications skills."

Duerksen also urged the audience to "live uncompromised and unquestioned integrity.

"It’s very basic and astoundingly powerful: Just do what you say you will do. But if things happen confess early."

The last standard is to be both a "strategic doer and simultaneously lead others." 

-- Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 1, 5.17 p.m. CET

Tips for a sustainable future

Collaboration, science-based decision making and communication are the main tools to achieving sustainable seafood sourcing, according to Mike Mitchell, NASF sustainability director.

"A strategic approach and collaborative efforts yield results, I cannot stress enough the importance of working together in the pre-competitive arena,” said Mitchell.

He pointed to The Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC), as an example of how this strategy can be a success. The SSC now has 22 members including a number of retailers, brands, suppliers to retail/food service, and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

“These companies may all be competitors, but even though they are competitors usually  – they are not in this arena,” said Mitchell. “Here it is to everyone’s benefit and to everyone’s advantage to work together on this.” 

Companies need to do a credible, science-based risk assessment of the fisheries they are sourcing from, and then develop a engagement plan based on that risk assessment.

“And unless you are a giant of a company, you will probably need others to help you,” said Mitchell.

A responsible seafood business needs to work hard to understand challenges with sustainable sourcing, have good toolkit in place to make the best sourcing decisions, and needs corporate policies in place that reflect their brand and their values.

They also have a key role in stimulating market led improvements, said Mitchell. “But most importantly, they must work collaboratively will all stakeholders to effect greater change.”

-- Dominic Welling


Tuesday, March 1, 4.44 p.m. CET

Marine Harvest CEO: Leadership is a competitive advantage

The global salmon industry badly needs qualified, young leaders, Alf-Helge Aarskog, CEO at Norwegian salmon giant Marine Harvest, during his address during the Young Leadership Summit on Tuesday afternoon.

"It is the most fun industry to be in, I think, and we’re producing a great and healthy product," he said.

In the short term he wishes for more scientists coming into the industry -- or "sea lice warriors" as he calls them.

But thinking ahead it's all about communicating with consumers. "There’s a lot to do on giving information about the benefits of the product to the consumer," he said. 

Marine Harvest's core values are passion, change, trust and sharing but what is going to be important in the future, Aarskog said, are its leadership principles.

"Maybe we haven't spent a lot of time on it in the past but we see leadership as a competitive advantage.

To make it at Marine Harvest -- and in the industry -- young people have to "make it happen," think and act, live their values and inspire people.

-- Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 1, 4.17 p.m. CET

New blood

How can the seafood sector attract new, young, professional talent into the sector and recognize those future leaders who already work in it?

This is the new mission, said Drew Cherry, editorial director at IntraFish Media and Rachel Mutter, editor at IntraFish Media as they kicked off the first Young Leadership Summit on Day Zero of the North Atlantic Seafood Forum (NASF).

"This is the beginning of a mission, the beginning of a community, and the beginning of a need to bring young professionals into the sector,” said Cherry.

"We want to use this opportunity to ask where the industry needs to go, what kind of people need to be brought into the sector, and how it can bring in more young, enthusiastic professionals into the sector,” he said.

While we often talk about sustainability in the seafood sector – of markets, and prices, etc. – we rarely discuss the sustainability of people, added Mutter.

“I wrote a column on this topic and it clearly struck a chord with the industry.”

In response, IntraFish recently launched its 40 under 40 series to celebrate the young professionals in the sector.

In the process it received more than 100 high quality nominations, from all over the world, and from every sector.

“What’s come to light is there is real young talent out there – and this needs to be highlighted,” said Mutter.

-- Dominic Welling


Tuesday, March 1, 2.28 p.m. CET

Both lucky and good

At the moment there is plenty of cod in the Barents Sea, but is this an effect of climate or fisheries management?

This is the question posed by Olav Kjesbu, researcher at the Institute of Marine Research.

“Has a good climate resulted in the big increase in biomass of cod, or is it down to fisheries management? Basically, have we been lucky or have we been good?”

While the route to the answer is complex, the answer is essentially: we have been both.

When the harvest control rule (HCR) became operational, it was at a time when the stock abundance was moderate, said Kjesbu, so there were no delayed effects of 'rebuilding'.

Similarly it was around the period when Russia and Norway ended illegal fishing.

Meanwhile, at the same time ocean warming contributed to a record high spawning stock biomass through a suitable feeding area (SFA) expansion.

It also improved surplus production per unit biomass, said Kjesbu.

“But the adopted management regime was the main reason for the positive change in stock status,” he concluded.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, March 1, 2.06 p.m. CET

Fish distribution shifts happening 'much faster' than previously thought

Global ocean warming is happening fastest in the Arctic region, including the Barents Sea.

This results in changes in spatial distribution, which according to Edda Johannesen, researcher at the Institute of Marine Research, is happening "much faster than models predict."

The past decade was the "warmest in history" in the 1.6 million square kilometers sea, she told the audience. This resulted in distribution shifts of at least 74 species, including Atlantic cod and shrimp.

"At the global scale estimations are that they are shifting 40 kilometers per decade, but our observations are they are shifting four times faster," Johannesen said.

And as the resources shift, fisheries and fishing grounds are changing too.

-- Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 1, 1.50 p.m. CET

Act now on climate change!

Climate change in the North Atlantic is affected by three key elements: anthropogenic climate change, natural climate variability and Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, according to Svein Sundby, researcher at the Institute of Marine Research.

Anthropogenic climate change refers to the production of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity and for this we must “act now," said Sundby.

“Adaptation to natural climate change has to happen now also,” he said.

However, other elements require a longer term view, and we must adapt to how things change over future decades, he said.

Sundby demonstrated how North Atlantic cod and herring spawning stocks and their migratory patterns are directly influenced by the increase or decrease in water temperatures. If the temperature changes by just 2 degrees Celsius, patterns shift.

There is a potential for ocean temperatures to decrease by 2 degrees, if we make changes, he said.

Around 94 percent of global warming energy in recent 50 years has been absorbed by the ocean, but more than 50 percent of change in the North Atlantic linked to natural variability, said Sundby.

-- Dominic Welling


Tuesday, March 1, 1.10 p.m. CET

Ocean acidification -- the most scary fact?

Einar Svendsen, researcher at Institute of Marine Research, who is chairing the session on climate change this afternoon, said ocean acidification might be the "most scaring threat" in terms of the "rapid" change in the ocean weather.

Climate variability and change cause major challenges to the functioning of nature, he said.

And "on top of that" comes direct human interference. All combined, this will impact the biological balance of the oceans, he said.

It's most definitely a subject that needs to be discussed, Svendsen told delegates.

-- Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 1, 11.55 a.m. CET

The right mix

There's no doubt that feed is playing an important role in lice control, but according to Simon Wadsworth, aqua health research lead at Cargill-owned Ewos Innovation, only the right mix of different measures will lead to success.

Tools include various anti-attachment feeds and compounds, which disrupt lice attachment, sub-surface feeders to keep fish at depth and integrated pest management.

Overall, however, the industry will have to shorten production cycles as faster growth will help reduce the exposure to sea lice significantly, he said. 

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, March 1, 11.53 a.m. CET

The potential of lump fish

Lump fish will ultimately play a crucial role in the fight against sea lice – once the industry has figured out how to produce them more effectively, according to Bjarne Reinert, fish health manager at Leroy Seafood.

Research has found that lump fish – which are often found in the wild alongside Atlantic salmon wild stocks – can feed on sea lice in the right circumstances, and as such have a great potential, said Reinert.

However, there are some challenges - specifically with producing lump fish in a farmed environment which currently involves heavy mortality levels.

The mortalities are in some way related to high temperatures, as well as bacterial infections, said Reinert.

“Production is quite intensive, it is a new marine species, and there is a long way to go on maximizing the production, husbandry practices, nutritional needs.”

Nevertheless, Leroy’s sea lice strategy involves a target of low infestation levels with close to zero treatments.

“In this regard, lump fish plays a crucial role,” said Reinert.

-- Dominic Welling


Tuesday, March 1, 11.15 a.m. CET

Sea lice developing into superbugs

As sea lice are becoming increasingly tolerant and resistant to standard treatments, the industry should seek to protect the more sensitive ones.

According to Tor Einar Horsberg, professor of veterinary pharmacology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), since 2009 sea lice are becoming increasingly tolerant and resistant to various treatments – and are “developing into superbugs now.”

Scientists are discovering there are different levels to how sensitive sea lice are to different treatments and each salmon farm has a mixture -- from those sensitive to all treatments and those sensitive to none, said Horsberg.

“Those that survive all the different treatments, they are the ones bringing up the new generation.”

So while it may seem like a good idea to kill all the sensitive sea lice, Horsberg warns against this.

“The sensitive sea lice should be protected in order to maintain the efficacy of treatment products which in general are safe and effective.”

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, March 1, 10.54 a.m. CET

Sea lice -- Norway's situation today and the future

The majority of Norwegian salmon farmers today are under the limits of 0.5 female lice per fish, Stian Johnsen, senior adviser at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA), told delegates Tuesday morning.

But the situation has become "critical" in large parts of the country because of resistance toward chemicals used against the lice, poor contingency, poor timing and execution of treatments.

In addition, it has become an animal welfare issue, he said, and the NFSA has decided to reduce the biomass on farms with severe lice problems.

However, there is some bright spots, Johnsen said. The development and increased use of non-chemical measures and new technologies is steadily growing.

"This is the way forward," he said. "You can’t rely on chemicals."

In terms of regulation, Norway is planning an amendment of the sea lice regulation in 2016/2017, which should be "less detailed" than the current one.

Farmers will have to take on more responsibility to improve their internal control systems and make sure they have the proper competence to assess risk, and implement measures to prevent and handle disease and welfare hazards, he said.

The new regulation should also be "better adjusted to the use of non-chemical measures," Johnsen said. 

-- Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 1, 10.44 a.m. CET

It’s all in the head

With the right mindset, the farmed salmon industry can succeed in combating sea lice on a global level, according to Gordon Ritchie, group manager fish health and welfare at Marine Harvest.

The need is to reduce costs, while also maintaining good fish welfare

“Rather than challenges, I prefer to look at solutions,” he said. “To successfully combat sea lice we must be diligent and motivated – with the right mindset we can succeed.”

While there is no quick or easy fix, it can be done and it just requires dedication and diligence, he said.

“It is mainly about mindset and culture. First have a strategy in pace, then it is about motivation and training, the rest is about planning and logistics.”

Integrated management is also key.

“Pave a realistic pathway, have a clear target, something to reach towards – that is absolutely necessary.

Marine Harvest has a clear strategy for combating sea lice and has been successful in a number of its farms where it has implemented it. The strategy includes weekly counting of lice on all pens, and targeted and motivated use of cleaner fish in six sites in south of Norway.

“Here we have used no medicine since November 2010 -- so it is possible,” said Ritchie.

In some of these farms in the south of Norway the company is seeing much lower levels of lice, while at the same time – between 2014 and 2015 – a 46 percent reduction in peroxide, and a 29 percent reduction in other live medicine.

“So we can see lower lice levels and lower medicine use,” said Ritchie.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, March 1, 10.23 a.m. CET

No ‘quick fix’

The challenge of addressing the sea lice issue is a “critical” one, Hils Haga, director of the aquaculture division at Nofima, said, kicking off the Zero Lice workshop on Tuesday morning.

The industry needs “to bring in all possible resources and come up with best management practices,” he said.

Even though there are a lot of initiatives going on, but none of them will provide a “quick fix,” he said.

Discussions today will revolve around challenges, biological opportunities and technical opportunities to kick-start a process leading toward a best management practice. 

The cost development in salmon farming in the past three years show how big the issue actually is, said Audun Iversen, research scientist at Nofima, during his presentation.

In 2014, about NOK 3 billion to NOK 4 billion were spent on operating cost related to lice and it “would not be surprising” if NOK 5 billion are surpassed in 2015, he told delegates.

-- Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 1, 10.14 a.m. CET

Problems with sea lice ‘overstated’

Although sea lice is becoming one of the largest challenges facing the development of the salmon industry, things are not necessarily as bad as some might think.

According to Fredrik Witte, managing director of Cargill Aqua Nutrition Norway, the argument that the situation is “out of control” is somewhat “overstated.

“In fact the situation is relatively stable on national level – with some regions more affected than others.”

The actual challenge at the moment is how to maintain this level, and then hopefully reduce it in a sustainable manner.

Ewos is one of the main industry partners of the NCE seafood innovation cluster which is made up of 70 industry players and has revenues of NOK 57 billion. Its mission is to combat the sea lice problem and “ensure long term positive development of our industry.”

“I am sure we will achieve and reach this goal if we work together,” said Witte.

The good news is the toolbox available for the industry to fight sea lice is also growing.

This includes the “star wars technology” of the Stingray laser, the use of cleaner fish, tarpaulins, caged solutions, and feed solutions – these are all playing a role in fighting the sea lice situation.

“The number of solutions is growing week by week, month by month. Our target, together as a cluster is to take the lead to continue filling the toolbox and establishing best practice to use them and maintain control,” said Witte.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, March 1, 8.45 a.m. CET

NASF 2016 kicks off in Bergen

Continuing the main theme from last year's conference, the 11th North Atlantic Seafood Forum (NASF) is again focusing on global seafood trade and market access.

A wide range of high-profile speakers will explore seafood in a new geopolitical role, and highlight the ever-increasing importance of the industry in the world's expanding food trade.

This year's conference will feature around 110 speakers in 12 seminars over the next three days.

Day Zero features a workshop on combating sea lice - "Zero Lice". The seminar will focus on how the industry can come together to embark on new paths to combat sea lice.

Click here to see the full conference program.

To recap on all the news from last year's conference click here.

--IntraFish Media