Status of the bio-based industries in Norway

Status of the bio-based industries in Norway

September 6, 2016
Head of Communication

Nordland County is number one in Norway in fisheries and aquaculture. A new report provides a good overview of the biological resources and production in the forestry, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture sectors in Norway.

The report shows that there are major regional variations in resources and production between the various sectors. Northern Norway, spearheaded by Nordland County, is a major producer of biomass from fisheries and aquaculture.

The marine industries in the southeast of Norway are insignificant, but the production of biomass from forests in this region is significant. Agriculture covers the entire country, but counties such as Hedmark, Oppland, Rogaland and Trøndelag stand out with the highest biomass production.

Decisive for the Norwegian economy in the future

Renewable biological resources will have a decisive impact on the Norwegian economy in the future. The new research report by Norut, the Norwegian Centre for Rural Research and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) outlines the status of the bio-based industries in Norway. Bio-based industries, which are also known as primary industries, supply biological raw materials for consumption and processing.

The research efforts are part of the Biosmart project, which has the objective of developing smart solutions for a sustainable economy based on renewable resources.

Forestry and agriculture

The report demonstrates a potential to increase the extraction of forest because the annual increment in productive forests (around 25 million m3 for many years) is significantly higher than the annual logging (7-10 million m3).

The share of agricultural land in Norway (3 %) is very small compared with most other countries, However, a high proportion of this is arable land. The use of agricultural land has declined slightly over the past decade, but the production of food has remained stable due to the import of feed ingredients.

There is potential to increase production by improving agricultural practices, such as crop rotation and using outfield grazing areas for livestock.

Fisheries and aquaculture

While the fisheries industry is characterized by major fluctuations in fish stocks, the total harvest of wild seafood has been around 2.5 million tonnes annually since the mid-1990s. The catch of traditionally harvested fish species is in practice fully exploited. However, an increase in production volume may be achieved by exploiting other species, such as plankton and seaweed.

The aquaculture sector has experienced strong growth ever since its start-up in the 1970s. The annual production was at 1.3 million tonnes in 2014, and the aquaculture sector has an ambition to increase this production five-fold. The import of feed is an important basis for growth for this sector as well.

The realization of increased production is reliant on many factors, including securing sufficient feed, controlling diseases and handling the negative impacts on the environment.


Biosmart was headed by the Norwegian Centre for Rural Research, while Norut is one of the participants in the international research group.

The authors of the report are Jannike Falk-Andersson from Norut, Magnar Forbord from the Norwegian Centre for Rural Research and Birger Vennesland from the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO).  

Click on this link to read the full report: Mapping the bioeconomy: Biological resources and production in forestry, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture in Norway.

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