Ocean industries are Norway’s most important source of revenue

March 12, 2021
By The Explorer


Seventy per cent of Norway’s revenues come from the ocean.

The size of Norway’s ocean area is six times the size of its land area. More than 200 000 jobs are directly connected to the ocean, primarily in traditional industries such as oil and gas, maritime and seafood, but also in future-oriented industries such offshore wind power and green shipping. Together these industries generate some USD 64 billion annually.

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Selfa Arctic hybrid fishing boat.


Here is an overview of some of the most exciting developments within sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, clean energy, and green maritime transport.

Sustainable aquaculture

Norway is the world’s second largest exporter of seafood, after China. In 2020 Norway exported 2.7 million metric tons of seafood (both farmed and wild-caught) to the tune of some USD 12 billion. This corresponds to 36 million meals a day per year, or 25 000 meals per minute.

The Norwegian government is taking steps to ensure that fish is farmed within nature’s limits. The environmental impact of the aquaculture industry was assessed in 2019 and will continue to be assessed every second year, with the aim of adjusting production capacity to a sustainable level.

Norwegian suppliers to the aquaculture industry are doing their share by developing solutions that increase production efficiency while improving fish welfare and minimising environmental impact. Sea Smart, for example, has developed a wireless sensor drone for monitoring aquaculture cages which collects data that fish farmers can use to improve feed accuracy, thereby reducing waste and increasing growth. FiiZK, meanwhile, delivers fully enclosed fish tanks offering complete protection from parasites and eliminating fish escapes and emissions.


Salmon smolt.

Erlend Astad Lorentzen/Institute of Marine Research

Offshore aquaculture holds great promise, as the open ocean offers more space, deeper waters and stronger currents. SalMar has installed Ocean Farm 1 – one of the world’s first offshore fish farms – off the coast of Norway. The pioneering facility is the world’s largest and can hold approximately 1.5 million Atlantic salmon. It is equipped with features cameras, oxygen sensors and other digital solutions to collect as much data as possible.

Environmental Vision Norway (EVN) has taken another approach and developed the Autonomous Offshore Fish Farming Vessel. The vessel can be anchored in unsheltered areas where fish grow faster due to naturally well-aerated water and ocean currents can lead nutrients back into the ecosystem.

Norwegian companies are also exploring possibilities for cultivating new marine resources, such as seaweed and microalgae.

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Ocean Farm 1.

SalMar ASA

Sustainable fisheries

Norway is known throughout the world for responsible and sustainable management of fish stocks and other ocean resources. In 2019, the government permitted the start of a new fishery, the commercial harvesting of the copepod Calanus finnmarchicus. The company Calanus has used this renewable resource to create a health supplement for humans, Calanus® Oil, as well as nutrient-rich aquaculture feed.

Digital solutions also help to keep fisheries sustainable. The company Maritech, for example, delivers software that can track and trace seafood products from their origin all the way to the table. This enables verification that seafood is sustainably and legitimately caught.


FossTech AS

Innovation in offshore wind and the ocean floor

Emerging ocean industries can benefit from technology transfer and know-how from Norway’s offshore oil and gas industry.

Floating offshore wind power is one of these. Norwegian Equinor has been a pioneer, opening Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, in 2017. The company is now developing Hywind Tampen, the world’s first floating offshore wind farm to power oil and gas platforms, which will be operational in 2022.

Costs are coming down for floating wind, which will make it more attractive, also internationally. A Norwegian supplier industry is taking shape. Origo Solutions, for example, develops SCADA systems floating offshore wind farms, and MacGregor provides mooring solutions for wind turbines. 4Subsea, meanwhile, delivers autonomous sensors and software to monitor floating and bottom-fixed offshore wind substructures.

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Hywind Scotland/Equinor.

Jan Arne Wold/Woldcom

Norway has decades of experience capturing CO₂ from oil and gas production and injecting it for storage under the seabed on the Norwegian continental shelf. In autumn 2020, the Storting (Norwegian parliament) approved the construction of a full-scale, integrated CCS system. The Longship project, as it is called, encompasses the entire value chain from carbon capture to transport and storage and is the first of its kind in the world. The project includes Northern Lights, a collaboration between Equinor, Shell and Total to build an open access infrastructure for transporting CO₂ from onshore industrial capture sources in Europe to an offshore storage location below the seabed of the North Sea. The Longship project also includes state funding of a full-scale carbon capture facility at Norcem’s cement factory in Brevik. The government also intends to fund a carbon capture facility at Fortum Oslo Varme’s waste incineration plant in Oslo, provided that the project secures sufficient own funding as well as funding from the EU or other sources.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is in the process of mapping mineral deposits on the seabed of the Norwegian continental shelf. This may lead to deep sea mining of manganese, metal sulfides and lithium – which are essential for production of smartphones, wind turbines and batteries for electric cars and electronics. Here, too, Norway’s offshore oil and gas expertise and technology will give the country unique advantages.

Green shipping and maritime transport

Shipping will continue to be critical for Norway as an ocean nation. The motorways of the sea are a sustainable alternative for both short and long-distance cargo transport.

The Green Shipping Programme was established in 2015, and is the result of a public-private partnership. The programme aims to strengthen Norway’s position as a leading shipping nation and to find scalable solutions for efficient and environment-friendly shipping. Thus far, some 20 large-scale pilot projects have been launched for green ports, LNG/VOC/battery-power shuttle tankers, autonomous zero-emission vessels, and more.

In terms of passenger transport, stringent requirements for public procurement and industry focus on green high-tech solutions have led to a boom in environment-friendly ferries. By 2021, there will be about 70 all-electric or hybrid ferries in service along the coast – equivalent to over one third of the country’s car ferries.

In addition to reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions, these developments will put the Norwegian maritime industry in a position to deliver the low and zero-emission solutions needed to achieve the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) the target of halving emissions from international shipping by 2050 – and the more ambitious targets of the Paris Agreement.


Fjellstrand designed and built the all-electric, battery-powered Ampere .

Fjellstrand AS

International leadership role

Norway has taken on an international leadership role in maintaining the well-being of the ocean while sustainably using ocean resources. Prime Minister Erna Solberg is co-chair of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. Norway is also one of the main participant countries in developing the UN Global Compact Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business.