Norwegian institute plans market-oriented seafood research
importance of market-oriented research in its new annual report,
especially in the area of marine ingredients, seafood by-products
and research into health benefits.
Seafood plays a vitally important role in Norway's economy. After oil, it is the country's second biggest export commodity. Major fish stocks vary between seasons, but are thought to be between two and three million tonnes per year. In the section on industry and market-oriented research, the newly published report sets out some foci for its endeavours going forward. With specific regard to marine ingredients and by-products, the institute aims to contribute to the use of raw materials through biotechnology methods. "Use of residual raw materials for feed, human consumption, cosmetics and technological applications will have priority," it said. As far as research into the health benefits of seafood and by-products, special attention is being given to prevention of type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. "Central task will be to develop processing procedures and new products while preserving the health promoting effects. Bioprospecting has a goal to utilise biochemical and genetic resources from the sea to create new special products that achieve a high price." The institute is also looking into harvesting and properties of marine raw materials, with a view to understanding how processing of raw materials can affect basic and functional properties, and to gain an insight into the mechanisms behind different types of seafood behaving differently in processing. An important part of this is understanding how elements like proteins, lipids and trace elements change during processing, preservation and storage. Managing director Ivan Burkow underscored the importance of keeping one eye on industry. "Fiskeriforskning's market-oriented and international-oriented knowledge base has proven to be central to development of the marine industry," he said. Norway is not the only country tapping the value-added potential of its marine industry. In April Ireland formally launched its marine functional foods research programme, pledging to spend €5.2m towards becoming a leader in the global market for foods with added health benefits.Four key themes were identified by attendees at a workshop held by The Marine Institute in early January are: Sustainable harvesting of fish species not currently targeted as food for human consumption; seaweeds; farming of fish and shellfish; and discarded materials from fish processing plants.