President Tan visits key fishing hub in Norway

Mr Kjell Ove Hveding, host of Sommaroy Arctic Hotel, showing Dr Tony Tan and Mrs Mary Tan corals that were washed up on the shores. Dr Tan was briefed on Sommaroy's coastal environment and economic activity.
Mr Kjell Ove Hveding, host of Sommaroy Arctic Hotel, showing Dr Tony Tan and Mrs Mary Tan corals that were washed up on the shores. Dr Tan was briefed on Sommaroy's coastal environment and economic activity.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Norway is one of the largest exporters of seafood, and on the tiny 90ha island of Sommaroy, west of the city of Tromso, herring is big business.

From November to February, its waters teem with millions of the silver-coloured fish, giving fisheries a haul of up to 600,000kg a day.

Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam yesterday visited Sommaroy, a key hub for Norway's fishing industry, and was briefed about the island's coastal environment and economic activity.

Dr Tan, who is on a six-day state visit to Norway, the first by a Singapore head of state to the Scandinavian country, arrived in the capital, Oslo, on Sunday.

Norway is a big seafood supplier to Singapore. It accounts, for example, for 80 per cent of Singapore's imports of fresh and frozen salmon.

"For fresh salmon, we have a market share of more than 90 per cent as this is by far the most popular fish for sushi and sashimi," said Mr Jon Erik Steenslid, regional director for South-east Asia at the Norwegian Seafood Council in Singapore.

Mr Ricky Chew, founder and managing director of Oceana Seafood and restaurant chain Fish & Co, is here as part of a business delegation and is looking to import more fish from Norway. He said: "Over the last few years, salmon supply around the world seems to be dwindling... We are in Norway to source new suppliers and to see how they run their operations."

On his return later yesterday to Tromso, Dr Tan met Ms Nina Buvang Vaaja, deputy director of the Arctic Council Secretariat.

Since 2013, Singapore has been a permanent observer in the Arctic Council, which focuses on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection of the region.

During Dr Tan's visit, 12 agreements were signed between Norwegian and Singapore businesses and institutes to boost economic, education and research collaboration.

Both countries are also looking to work together to tackle environmental issues, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, who met his Norwegian counterpart Vidar Helgesen.

Mr Masagos said: "Norway has always been at the forefront to combat climate change and therefore they are a partner for us." He cited the need to tackle and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, whether these are brought on by emissions from industries or as a result of occurrences such as the haze.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2016, with the headline 'President Tan visits key fishing hub in Norway'. Print Edition | Subscribe