25 June 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) invites everyone to commemorate the seafarer’s role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines, and medical supplies during the global pandemic.
In Norway, approx. 66,000 people are engaged, directly or indirectly, in the seafood industry, more than 11,000 as fishermen and women.
“There is no doubt seamen and women have been among the heroes of this pandemic. Like other groups, they have continued to work, in difficult conditions, often far from their homes, and continued to provide healthy and sustainable seafood to the world,” says Chris Guldberg, Director of Communications at the Norwegian Seafood Council.
Norway exports a wide variety of fish and shellfish to 149 countries and is the second largest seafood exporter in the world.
Norway, a seafaring nation
In Norway, the coronavirus has been and continues to be a major challenge for the industry, which represents an important part of the Norwegian economy, particularly in small communities along its long coastline. In 2018 the fishing industry contributed more than NOK 100bn, directly and indirectly, to the national economy.
During the pandemic, both wild fisheries and aquaculture have been considered as food production of critical importance to society, with the government aiming to maintain the supply of Norwegian seafood products both in Norway and abroad.
Employees in the fisheries and aquaculture industry have been in close contact with the Norwegian health authorities throughout the period to implement appropriate measures, such as sanitation of work equipment, as well as maintaining social distancing.
Surge in demand for some seafood products
In many markets, people cooking more at home has seen an increase in demand for processed and prepacked seafood, as well as products with longer sell-by dates, such as clipfish and frozen fish.
“We have seen a real drive to keep Norwegian seafood production and exports going amid the Corona pandemic. Producers and their customers all over the world are finding solutions and overcoming hurdles to deliver nutritious and top-quality seafood, despite the crisis.”, says Guldberg.
In 2019, Norway exported 2.6 million tonnes of seafood to the world, valued at nearly 10 million euros.
So far this year, seafood exports have reached a value of 4,153 million euros. This is an increase in value of 139.7 million euros, or 3 percent, compared to the same period in 2019.
The 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign pays tribute to seafarers, acknowledging their sacrifice and the issues they face. Many seafarers have been away from home for months and are unsure when they will be able to return home due to travel restrictions.
The campaign also seeks to raise awareness of the work achieved by seafarers in response to the pandemic and to thank them for their contribution. Everyone is invited to recognize that the ability of seafarers to deliver vital goods is central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic.
The campaign encourages everyone to treat seafarers with the respect and dignity they deserve so that they can continue to provide their vital services to keep world trade moving.