02 October 2020
Rooted in more than a thousand years of fishing, Norway’s aquaculture sector has more recently capitalized on excellent coastal conditions that include deep fjords and pristine ocean water for farm raising seafood. Norway began experimenting with aquaculture in the late 1950s, and has steadily increased production decade by decade ever since. Most growth occurred between 2000 and 2016, when production increased from 491,329 metric tons to 1,326,216 metric tons in 2016 (FAO). This growth has been supported by a strong government and sector commitment to sustainable development.
Atlantic Salmon from Norwegian Aquaculture
The main species farmed in Norway is Atlantic salmon, representing 93% of total Norwegian aquaculture production (FAO 2016). In fact, Norway is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon at 1.233 million metric tons (FAO 2016). Rainbow trout makes up the overwhelming majority of the remaining species at 6.7% of total production. Mussels are ranked 3rd at 1.6% and Atlantic halibut is 4th at 1.1% of total aquaculture production. Additional farm raised species include Atlantic cod and arctic char.
Strict Government Regulations
In Norway, fish farms are strictly regulated to meet rigorous environmental as well as quality and food safety requirements. Fish farmed at sea are raised in large circular cages, where stocking densities ensure a ratio of 2.5% fish to 97.5% water. Independent 3rd party certification schemes such as GLOBALG.A.P complement these government regulations.
Sea Lice and Other Challenges in Norwegian Aquaculture
Recently, Norwegian Atlantic salmon farms have increasingly grappled with the biological challenge of sea lice. New innovative techniques such as the use of cleaner fish – natural predators of the sea lice – have been employed along with environmentally friendly bath treatments such as thermolicers and hydrolicers that are used to gently remove the parasites with positive results.
Soaring Atlantic Salmon Exports and the Future of Aquaculture in Norway
The Norwegian Seafood Council estimates Atlantic salmon exports make up about 70% of the nation’s total seafood exports and that 14 million meals of Norwegian salmon are served every day in over 100 countries. Europe is the primary trading partner with Norway when it comes to Atlantic salmon. The largest European importer of Norwegian salmon is Poland, where the fish is further processed and smoked for markets throughout Europe and the world. France is the 2nd largest trading partner. Having recently resolved a trade dispute with China, Norway is looking to further expand production to satisfy this market, which has an insatiable appetite for fresh Atlantic salmon.
To ensure sustainable expansion, today, growth of the Norwegian farmed salmon sector is predicated upon the issuance of green licenses. This continues to safeguard a sustainable future not only for the environment, but for the Norwegian aquaculture sector and coastal communities.
For more information about Norwegian aquaculture visit:
 Norwegian Seafood Council