Photo: Torbjørn Tobiassen © Nofima

Project Year 2017

Good investment!

 Seafood industry  

Our research on fish hotels was granted Centre of Excellence status in 2010. We are now in a much better position to store wild fish and shellfish – alive.

Transport tanks on board fishing vessels. Knowledge about feed and feeding. Special sorting criteria to remove fish that will not withstand live storage. And a guide to capture-based aquaculture, giving “everyone” the chance to try and keep their catch alive in sea pens or tanks, until the market is ready for them.

These are just a few examples of new tools and knowledge to help fishermen succeed with live storage.

“I would claim that the Centre has been a good investment, in terms of improvements in product quality, fish welfare and wealth creation,” says senior scientist and head of the Centre of Excellence, Bjørn-Steinar Sæther.

Predictability for the market and the ability to deliver top-quality seafood all year round are the main motivations behind live storage of catches.

Next species – haddock?

In Norway it is mainly cod, crab, cleaner fish and sea urchins that are stored alive. The amount of live-stored fish is on the rise, although it currently represents only a fraction of the fishing quotas.

Now a new species can check in to the hotel, at least for a short stay. Trials at keeping haddock alive on the journey from fishing grounds to reception station have surpassed expectations.

“Up to 80% of the haddock were still alive 12–18 hours after capture. The fillets were perfect and suitable for all uses,” says scientist Torbjørn Tobiassen.

Haddock is an excellent food fish, but is usually difficult to handle. The Båtsfjord facility, which processed the test haddock, reported significantly better quality. The fish were easy to work with, and the proportion of top-quality products increased by 25%.

Now the researchers want to repeat the experiments, in part to find out why some fish don’t do so well.

More work to be done

How many wild fish survive capture varies widely: at best, 95%, but at times only half.

“So there is still more work to be done. For example, we need to document which tools work best, how they should be used, and how much the size of the catch and transport time affect survival, quality, and fitness for live storage,” says Sæther.

The Centre has also run courses for fishermen. In addition, the scientists have worked with teachers at upper secondary schools in Lofoten and Vesterålen, and live storage is now on the syllabus of the fisheries programmes there. The centre also give lessons at the University of Tromsø.

Crab storage for export and quality

Shellfish also benefit from live storage. Nofima has focused on king crab and snow crab. We now know more about what they need to stay alive, and also about the opportunities for Norwegian players in the markets for live crab in Asia and the USA.

Live crab commands a good export price, but producers of claws and legs also get better results if crabs are stored alive. It gives the crabs the opportunity to recover from the rough treatment in the nets and during capture.

International attention

The extensive trials and the results in terms of quality have made the scientists involved sought-after speakers around the world. Nofima has also received assignments from players from Canada, Denmark and Iceland, to name but a few.

The scientists themselves have also been inspired by techniques overseas, such as live storage of tuna in Croatia. They are also trying to keep tuna alive in the nets, so that they can be slaughtered one at a time.

“This is an extreme version of what we are doing. However, the principle is the same, whether it is tuna, cod or crab. We want to preserve the quality of the catch and handle the fish individually,” says Sæther.


The National Centre for Capture-based Aquaculture was established in 2010. It is funded via the national budget and is headed by Nofima.

The Institute of Marine Research, Fiskeriparken, and other commercial players

Operation of the centre: the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs. Research: FHF, NFR and RFF

More useful research results