New Norwegian strategy for marine bioprospecting
Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Helga Pedersen and State Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry Rikke Lind presented the Norwegian government’s national strategy for marine bioprospecting in Tromsø today.
“Norway has a long tradition of harvesting the sea and has developed a high level of competence in the marine sector and bioprospecting. Through this new strategy, we are facilitating an exploitation of our marine resources that can provide us with new knowledge and new jobs from the treasure chest of the sea,” said Pedersen.
Marine bioprospecting is about investigating the characteristics of marine organisms. In the enormous sea areas under Norway’s administration, there are believed to be more than 10,000 species about which we have little knowledge. There is good reason to believe that many of these marine organisms have unique characteristics which can be exploited to create the basis for different products and processes in a number of commercial areas, including medicine, process industry, food, animal feed, biofuels and cosmetics.
“Marine bioprospecting is a strategic focus area in which Norway has positive potential for asserting itself in international competition. The government’s aim is to unlock the great potential for wealth creation which lies within marine bioprospecting,” said Lind.
The government’s goal is that marine bioprospecting should contribute to new and sustainable wealth creation. This goal is to be reached by increasing the focus on research and commercialisation relating to marine bioprospecting. International collaboration will also be a priority. The national marine biobank, Marbank, will be strengthened and more collaboration and coordination between various collections of marine organisms will be encouraged. The northern areas are central to this because of the access to unique Arctic marine organisms and marine industries, as well as the competence and infrastructure in research.
The strategy is part of the government’s innovation policy for an innovative and sustainable Norway, the government’s research policy and the government’s strategy for the marine sector, “Sustainable seafood – alpha and omega”. Its potential for knowledge development and wealth creation makes marine bioprospecting an important focus area in the government’s High North policy.
The strategy has been devised by the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment. Expert advice and input has been brought in from the university sector, the research institutes, industry and the capital market.