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Norway’s prime minister opens Lerøy visitor centre

Norwegian PM Erna Solberg and Bergen mayor Marte Mjoes Persen at the visitor centre opening. Photo:  Ole Andreas Drønen/Kyst.no.
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg and Bergen mayor Marte Mjoes Persen at the visitor centre opening. Photo: Ole Andreas Drønen/Kyst.no.

Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, has officially opened an aquaculture visitor centre in Bergen, and given her backing to the continuation of salmon farming in the sea – but perhaps in closed containment rather than net cages.

The Store Blå (Big Blue) centre is a collaboration between Scottish Sea Farms co-owner Lerøy Seafood Group and the Norwegian Fisheries Museum.

It is centrally located in Sandviken and offers knowledge about the industry to school students, tourists and locals. Trips to aquaculture facilities outside Bergen are also available. 

After a tour of the new centre, Solberg told Fish Farming Expert’s Norwegian sister site, Kyst.no, that it was important to set up such a facility in Bergen.

Teaching children and young people what we live on is important … aquaculture is an industry for the future.

Norwegian PM Erna Solberg
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg attempts to dissect a fish during the tour of the new visitor centre in Bergen. Click on image to enlarge. Photo: Ole Andreas Drønen.
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg attempts to dissect a fish during the tour of the new visitor centre in Bergen. Click on image to enlarge. Photo: Ole Andreas Drønen.

“Firstly, this is a big industry, which many have slightly weird ideas about, I think,” said the PM. 

“Teaching children and young people what we live on is important. We live off the coast and the aquaculture industry is an important part and an industry for the future. Establishing a visitor centre that provides knowledge and opportunities for reflection is important.”

Asked if she thought the aquaculture had an undeserved bad reputation, Solberg said: “The debate is often a bit strange here in Norway. People still claim that the industry uses a lot of antibiotics, or they talk about the great environmental impacts, but they forget that it is the form of protein production in Norway that actually has the least climate footprint.”

Plenty of water

Questioned on whether Norway, the world’s biggest Atlantic salmon producer, could lose a competitive advantage to land-based facilities being built close large cities throughout the world, she replied: “All land-based facilities will need a lot of water, a lot of clean water that can flow. 

“Norway has a lot of competitive advantage in such a context, since water is in short supply in many countries. We also have the knowledge and expertise needed in Norway. 

“I still think we should have farming in the sea, we just have to make sure we have more closed solutions in the sea which means that we have more control over waste products.”

Teaching laboratory

Store Blå houses a new, all-digital exhibition where visitors are invited to reflect on aquaculture. The centre’s goal is for visitors to learn more about aquaculture, put aquaculture into a larger context, and come to their own conclusions.  

An interdisciplinary teaching programme, adpated to meet school curriculums, is offered to school classes in a teaching laboratory. Here the students get to be aquaculture researchers for a day and perform various practical activities such as dissecting fish. 

On rigid inflatable boat (RIB) trips to aquaculture facilities in Øygarden or Austevoll, visitors can take a closer look at how salmon, trout and kelp are produced.