At the crack of dawn in the small community of Ålesund, local fishermen steer their boats out to sea in search of the catch of the day, returning back to their coastal community a short time later with fresh fish.
Nothing tastes quite as good as locally caught fish. There is such an appreciation for food that requires the shortest distance from source to consumer that Norway even has a name for it - “kortreist mat,” which means “least-traveled food.” This kind of seafood is a staple of communities like Ålesund in Norway.
But today, local fisherman and the fresh fish they sell are facing extinction.
Outside commercial fishing operators who pass through the deep seas outside of small communities like Ålesund use huge nets to capture fish in mass quantities, freeze their products for the whole country to consume, driving up prices of fresh fish while diminishing its selection.
The result of deepsea trawlers and the industrialization of fishing is that local fisherman and the fresh fish they offer are being squeezed out of the food markets. Most of the seafood found in local stores today is frozen industrial fish, while local fresh fish is difficult to buy.
The problem has only gotten worse as government policies, market regulations and new industry requirements continue to favor commercial fishing over local fisherman. The fate of the local fisherman’s future is not just a problem in Norway. As our global population increases, so has the demands on the ocean and all of its resources.
Entrepreneur Jon Åsmund Guttulsrud is passionate about local fisherman and the future of fresh fish. A frequent visitor to Ålesund where his extended family lives, Jon has seen most of the local fishing landing sites in this community go bankrupt.
As an OceanHub Influencer, Jon is writing knowledge-sharing Articles on OceanHub addressing the problems in the fishing sector, which affect local fisherman, consumers and communities around the world. Jon, 20, is taking a critical look at the impact that each actor in the fish market ecosystem plays, while looking ahead to new solutions.
“Very few people are enlightened to the problem in fishing and they do not know the consequences,” he said.
Jon is on OceanHub to build awareness while growing his own influence for this market in the Ocean Space. He has also started a group on OceanHub called Future of Fresh Seafood, to connect everyone with knowledge and passion about the future of this important area.
A graduate of the high school Handelsgymnasium in Oslo, Norway, Jon has recently launched his second startup. Jon is the founder of Havfersk (“Sea Fresh”) and chairman of Anchor Point Fishing. Through his two ventures, Jon hopes to contribute to saving local fisherman while improving the availability, selection and affordability of local fresh fish.
With his own family memories of eating fresh locally fished seafood in both Ålesund and his hometown of Oslo, Jon was inspired to research the reasons for the decrease in fresh fish - and why the systems are failing local fisherman.
In his OceanHub Articles, Jon shares what he has learned in regards to fishing regulations, quota systems and policies that favor large commercial operators in order to raise awareness of the issue at large. If the market does not change, Jon predicts that soon the price of fresh fish will reach an all-time high.
“This problem is growing bigger and bigger every year,” he said. “One day the market will crash and there will be no more local fisherman left - or fresh fish available.”
Jon is looking specifically at these market aspects in local fishing market:
Norwegian Fishing industrialization policies have reduced the amount of coastal fishing boats as massive trawlers run by major companies with employees not resided in coastal municipality’s benefit from this policy. Quantity, profitability and market adaption are the factors of which the industry is driven, he said. “The government is focusing on the wrong things,” he said. “There are inequalities in the market that can not be ignored.”
New regulations are demanding investments in stability control, security equipment and quota system. The investments will be burdensome for local coastal fishing fleets, which consist of part time and hobby fishermen.
Because frozen fish is easier to handle, does not need to be sold immediately, and can be exported to more markets, the mediators and auctioneers have an incentive to buy frozen over fresh. This affects local fishermen’s competitiveness. In addition, mediators can charge even high commissions that only the effective trawler fleet can afford.
The duty of landing fish is regulated on a governmental level to secure employment in districts of Norway. Medium sized fishing trawlers have sold their quotas to bigger trawlers that fish in deep sea. This has reduced the amount of medium sized fishing boats in favour of bigger ones. Furthermore, inconsistent supply of raw food from the sea is a consequence. Because of the mediators, the inconsistency is of no interest to them, and therefore fish landing sites may experience congestion of goods. The congestion of fish in the fish landing site will reduce the price, and the mediators take all the profit. Due to the lower prices and reduced profits, fish landing sites tend to struggle with bankruptcy. Closures of fish landing sites will further reduce the amount of fresh fish in the market.
About Jon Åsmund Guttulsrud graduated from Handelsgymnasium in Oslo, Norway. He is currently the Founder of Havfersk and Chairman of Anchor Point Fishing.