New campaign claims origin is key to sustainable seafood sales
Against a backdrop of dwindling fish stocks, the reputation of cod and other white fish caught off Britain’s coast has taken a battering over the last couple of years. With the sustainability of fishing higher than ever on the news agenda – thanks in no small part to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign – shoppers are being dissuaded from choosing their favourite cod and haddock.

Despite a diversity of local and less intensively fished species, what the UK public still really want is a great piece of succulent cod – a staple for many British households and the star of the Great British menu in restaurants, pubs and bars, not to mention the tens of thousands of chippies across the country.

Fortunately, for those who have a stake in Briton’s favourite fish, a new campaign is about to be launched which will restore the public’s faith in cod and haddock, and more seafood besides.

According to the Norwegian Seafood Export Council (NSEC) the fight for hearts and minds isn’t over just yet. In fact, it’s about to enter a new phase – choosing sustainable fish is as much about origin as it is species. Consumers can choose cod with a clear conscience. They just need to choose Norwegian.

The NSEC already runs highly active marketing campaigns in many European countries and now has the UK in its sights, launching a two year campaign that will simultaneously target trade and consumers. The campaign will include advertising, PR and social media activity as well as masterclasses and recipe development for chefs and aims to make ‘Norwegian’ synonymous with ‘sustainable’.

NSEC Director Johan Kvalheim explains: “As Norwegians we are proud of the commitment we make to better management and harvesting of the cold clear Norwegian waters – which we began several decades ago. When it comes to sustainable fishing regulations Norway is rated number one by the UNFAO and Norwegian Seafood is endorsed by four internationally recognised eco-labels. We feel that the time is right to raise awareness of this in the UK and the aim of our marketing campaign is to educate UK consumers that there is a positive and sustainable choice when it comes to enjoying seafood – including cod and haddock.”

Norway is the world’s second largest exporter of seafood in value (£6.1 billion GBP annually), supplying fish to over 160 countries, but the country’s seafood provenance couldn’t be greener.

The cod stock in the clear Arctic waters of the Barents Sea, where Norway’s 12,000 fishermen catch about 93% of all their cod, is the only growing cod stock in the world. Following scientific advice through the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), Norway has been able to increase its cod catches by 20% in 2009, 16% in 2010 and 16% in 2011. In 2011 the joint quota (Norway/Russia) is now 703,000 metric tonnes.

Sustainability isn’t just about biomass and quotas though, it’s about people. Sustainable fishing is the lifeblood of the Norwegian nation. The huge diversity of sea life which thrives in the glacier-fed, cold, clear waters of the Norwegian fjords and the arctic seas plays a valuable part in the country’s rich culture and heritage. Norwegians have harvested the seas off their 83,000 km of coastline for thousands of years, and despite modernisation, the country and its people are still deeply connected to the landscape and its natural heritage. Norwegian people care about preserving the oceans because they have always been central to their way of life. Quite simply, the Norwegian fishing industry is built upon a respect for the environment in which it relies.

Johan added: “We believe that the best seafood in the world comes from Norway and buying Norwegian means that people can enjoy cod, haddock, prawns and other seafood favourites safe in the knowledge that they’ve made the right choice. The NSEC’s campaign, entitled ‘FISK.FOREVER’, will communicate all the wonderful things that can be said about Norwegian seafood’s sustainability and health credentials and will be a rallying call to get on board. We want to encourage people to reach for guilt-free Norwegian cod. With continued careful management, we can all enjoy our favourite seafood every day and forever.”

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