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The Norwegian Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF)

According to by-laws established by the Ministry of Fisheries, FHF’s purpose is:

- To strengthen financing of research and development, to arrange for increased added value, environmental adaptation, adjustments and innovation in the fishery and aquaculture industry.

It is important to note that conditions concerning the environment in the mission statement are given equal status with classical industrial and financial success factors.

It is further established in the by-laws that the Fund is a financing agency and that the funds shall be utilized for industry-oriented R&D work. This work should be for the benefit of either the entire or parts of the industry. This will be accomplished by distributing the funds as grants to research programmes and large projects. Results from research which is wholly or partly financed by the Fund shall be generally available according to the rules that apply to projects with government support. It is also established in the by-laws that the Fund must establish an agreement with the Research Council of Norway to ensure strategic and operational coordination and division of labour. The by-laws also state that work to initiate and develop programmes shall normally be accomplished through the purchase of services. The purpose of this, of course, is to prevent the Fund from establishing an unnecessarily large Secretariat, thereby ensuring that the greatest possible share of the funds will be used for their primary purpose.

The Fund has a Board of seven members who are formally appointed by the Ministry of Fisheries. The Norwegian Seafood Federation, which represents the fishing industry, the seafood exporters and the fish farmers, shall have three members. The Norwegian Fishermen's Association shall have two members, while two members are appointed on recommendations from the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions. The decisions of the Board must be unanimous in order to ensure that the Fund’s assets are not used for controversial initiatives.

The by-laws also state - in accordance with the opinion of industrialists - that the Board shall distribute the funds on its own initiative and not on the basis of applications for support for individual projects. This means that the Board plays a very active role with regard to the selection of priority areas for funds. Some of the funds are used to strengthen existing or planned programmes under the direction of the Research Council of Norway or the Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund (SND). However, a large share of the funds goes into self-defined programmes and large projects, where research institutes or research groups are invited to draw up outlines for implementation with corresponding work schedules and cost estimates. Thus, on the one hand, a healthy competition is achieved between the research institutes, as well as a foundation for collaboration between several environments to reach good solutions.

One of the earliest and largest self-defined projects selected by the Fund was automation of the pinbone detection process in the filleting industry. Detecting and removing the bones is and has been a very work intensive operation in this industry. In addition to the profitability challenges of this process with regard to the competitive strength in relation to low costs, pinboning is a physically exhausting job for which there are considerable problems in recruiting labour. It is mostly women who perform these tasks. This project was started as a cooperative venture between three Norwegian research institutes, the Icelandic equipment company Marel, and Marel’s Danish subsidiary, Carnitech. The filleting industry itself had the superior project management and project coordination through the "Fillet Forum" network, with the network’s Secretary as Project Manager. In the autumn of 2003, the project launched new technology which must be said to represent a very promising solution to a complicated problem. The project has thus far incurred costs of around NKr40 million, of which the equipment companies Marel and Carnitech have covered approximately half, while the remainder is financed by FHF and SND.

Ever since its inception, the network has given very high priority to the challenges involved in automating the pinbone detection process. Without financing from the Fund, the automating process could not have been accomplished and without research levies on seafood exports the industry would not have had a research fund. However, without the work and collaboration between the industrialists in the networks under NSF, there most likely would not have been any research levy. It can therefore be claimed - based on a solid background - that if networks had not been established during the first half of the 1990s, the industry a decade later would neither have its own research fund nor be about to start using new technology for the automation of pinboning in the filleting industry.

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