Cod efforts continue, if industry keen
The Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, promises further public investment in cod breeding, but only if industrial actors are also involved. “No problem, we’ll be involved,” say the cod farmers.
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the National Cod Breeding Programme, which is working to breed a cod that grows more rapidly. Those present heard a clear message from the minister.
“Most people know that this is an industry that is struggling, and many have lost a lot of money in recent years,” said the Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, in her speech during the ceremony.
“But there are several bright spots. The world needs more food, seafood is healthy, and the ocean’s meadows remain very little utilized. And discerning customers want cod all year round, not only in the season for wild fish. Therefore, we will continue to invest in cod breeding, provided that that business sector joins us in investing.”
NOK 300 million
It was back in 2001 that the government decided to establish a national breeding programme for cod. Nofima (then Fiskeriforskning) was allocated the task. Nofima has established a land-based facility at Kraknes in Tromsø where the production of cod fry takes place. Further growth takes place in sea cages at the marine farm in Røsneshamn on the island of Ringvassøy in Troms.
Since the start of the project, more than NOK 300 million has been invested in the breeding efforts.
During the initial years, wild spawning cod and coastal cod from Western Norway, Troms and Finnmark was caught and used as a basis for the breeding programme.
During the 10-year period, the scientists have succeeded in breeding farmed cod that grow 30 percent quicker than wild cod. With each year that passes the growth potential increases by three percent.
One of the companies that engage in cod farming is Skei Marinfisk ASA. The company currently produces farmed cod at five different sites in North Trøndelag.
“We have managed to cut production costs by NOK 10 per kilo since 2004. The mortality rate has been halved and growth increased by around 30 percent,” says the Manager of Skei Marinfisk ASA, Knut Elling Bråthen.
“A large proportion of the cod we harvest now ends up in a higher weight class than previously, and that means we get a higher price per kilo. The market has been tough since the price fell in 2009, but we are continuing to invest and expect even lower production costs in the future as a result of breeding.”