Ambassadørens innlegg ved North Atlantic Seafood Forum
North Atlantic Seafood Forum
VIP Speaker Reception
King Haakon Hall, Bergen, on March 7th
Statement delivered by H.E. Mr. Jean-François DOBELLE
Ambassador of France to Norway.
Mesdames et Messieurs les Présidents et Directeurs,
Presidenter og direktører, mine damer og herrer,
With the slowdown in the oil and gas sector, the Norwegian economy has entered a transition period. This has translated into a low growth rate, a rising inflation rate as well as an unemployment rate as high as 4,8% last year. It is a record figure for the country, but a figure we would dream of in France.
But the Norwegian economy will grow again, I have no doubt about that. Firstly, because it has already initiated its diversification process. Oil and gas will indeed remain the main industry in Norway for the years to come, but other sectors such as aquaculture are growing fast, without mentioning the maritime sector, already important in the Norwegian industry mix.
And this is where relations between Norway and France can take a fresh start. We are already important trade partners. In 2015, France was Norway’s fourth client, and its ninth supplier.
Norway’s largest trading partner is undoubtedly the European Union; it is also the case for seafood products. Norway has exported in 2016 products of the sea for an amount exceeding 91 billion kroner.10 out of the first 15 destinations for exports are member States of the EU. In 2015, Poland ranked first, with two hundred ten thousand tons, valued at 9,7 billion NOK in 2016, and France second, with one hundred thirty three thousand tons, valued at 7,9 billion kroner . This also means that a ton of salmon exported to France brings almost twice as many kroner as the one sold to Poland.
France values such events and such conferences, and I want to thank the organisers of this Forum for having created what has become a central piece in the balance of the ecosystem of seafood and fisheries activities in the North Sea.
It seems then logical that this 12th edition of the North Atlantic Seafood Forum gathers almost fifty French delegates from research centres to companies, including universities and local authorities. This delegation is headed by Mr Frédéric MONCANY de SAINT-AIGNAN, Chairman of the French Marine Cluster. This Cluster was created in 2006 to gather all the maritime actors and to promote the French maritime sector.
France has always been a maritime nation. With five thousand five hundred km of coastline and overseas territories, France possesses the second largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the world, encompassing 11 million square kilometres. France’s maritime economic sector weights around 71 billion euros, and account for three hundred thousand jobs.
France is by essence the European seafood hub and is ideally located at the junction of Northern and Southern Europe. France has strong and efficient distribution network with supermarkets and hypermarkets spread all over the country. And they can provide for a swift penetration of the fresh salmon in every corner of our territory.
The efficiency of the logistics translates directly in the consumer’s habits: France is a big market with an average consumption of 35 kg per capita (only Portugal, Spain and Finland do better in Europe). However, Norwegians have to face competition, as Scotland, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland and the Netherlands are also targeting the French market with salmon, white fish, trout, pelagic fish and flat fish.
But France wants a future where it will not only be a big consumer of seafood products. Thanks to its advanced training and research centres all across the country, combined with its fishing harbours in the North Sea, in the English Channel, in the Atlantic and on its Mediterranean coasts, France will attract investments in the value chain of the fishing industry. These developments should occur both upstream – with fisheries and aquaculture, as well as downstream, with the transformation processes and the logistics that make it all possible.
I would like to pay a particular tribute to Boulogne-sur-Mer : not only because my father was born in Wimereux, a lovely seaside resort, 5 kilometers north of Boulogne-sur-Mer, nor because Boulogne was the native town of famous writers or scientists, like Sainte-Beuve or Mariette, nor because of the main tourist attractions like the Museum, which exhibits one of the richest collections of Egyptian antiquities in Europe, the basilica Notre-Dame, the huge aquarium called Nausicaa, nor because the action of one of the best movies by Alain Resnais “Muriel” takes place in Boulogne, but because Boulogne is the first fishing harbour in France and the main hub in Europe for the Norwegian salmon and white fish.
France will continue to be a major player in the seafood sector, and therefore a major partner for all of you.
For example, Marine Harvest, the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon, has invested in five factories in France (Chateaulin, Dunkerque, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Landiviseau and Lorient).
With its ever growing population, Planet Earth is facing its biggest challenge ever: how to feed and care for 9 billion people by 2050 ?
The solution will come from the sea, thanks to marine resources and especially seafood products.
We have to strengthen the collaboration between our two countries, be it in research, in innovation or in marketing products.
Because together, we can make a difference. So thank you again for having honoured France in this 12th edition of the North Atlantic Seafood Forum.
And I am convinced that a fruitful cooperation, which will lead to major evolutions in your business, will be initiated here during these days in Bergen.
Thank you, Tusen Takk
And "skål" to the seafood industry!