Fabulous Fjords and Stunning Seafood.

One of the exciting things about being a UK Top 10 Fish & Chip shop (and there are many) is that you are invited on a study trip to Norway as a guest of Norway Seafood Council. We found out on Monday that we were in the Top 10 and less than a week later I am on my way to Alesund way up in the north of Norway or two flights and a coach trip each away!

 Beautiful Norway. Home to only 5 million people, less than London.

Beautiful Norway. Home to only 5 million people, less than London.

I have never been to Norway before, it is very beautiful and feels very untouched which I suppose is not surprising as there are only 5 million people who live in the whole of Norway, less than live in London alone. I make no excuses for the amount of pictures I took, it really is an incredibly beautiful place.

Alesund is a town of around 50,000 people (big by Norwegian standards) and the main industry is the fishing, in fact it has been a port since Viking times. Fishing as a whole is very important to Norway as it is the second biggest industry after oil and gas and the UK imports 60% of that fish which makes us a very important customer!

 Ramoen is the size of a small cruise ship and goes to sea for up to 5 weeks at a time.

Ramoen is the size of a small cruise ship and goes to sea for up to 5 weeks at a time.

The main focus of our trip was to go aboard the Ramoen which is essentially a fishing trawler. Except you won’t see many trawlers like this around Exmouth. Not only would the Ramoen not fit into Exmouth Dock, it is bigger than the Dock! The Ramoen is a factory ship that lands, processes and freezes fish all within 6 hours of catching. Many people say this makes the fish ‘fresher than fresh’ They put to sea for 5 weeks at a time so the ship has to have room for the factory, have space to store over 200 tonnes of fish and accommodate 30 crew in hotel like rooms – no wonder it is big!

 The bridge of Ramoen is like something out of Star Trek and spotlessly clean.

The bridge of Ramoen is like something out of Star Trek and spotlessly clean.

The vessel might be the size of a small cruise ship but it has the lightest touch on the environment. Not only do they fish strictly within their quotas but everything they fish is used. Once a fish is filleted the offcuts are used to make fish meal, fish stock powder and even fish oil tablets. Nothing is wasted. To add to this the Ramoen is a hybrid vessel using both electricity and diesel making it much more environmentally friendly than you would expect a ship of this size to be.

The factory aboard Ramoen is astonishing, the fish are gutted, skinned, filleted, pin boned then frozen within 6 hours of being caught all in spotlessly clean conditions. All the fish is from sustainable sources.

In general I found the Norwegians passion for sustainability is inspiring, they literally have crystal clear blue waters and they know and understand that this environment must be respected and protected if it is to continue to host a thriving marine eco system for generations to come.

The Ramoen vessel reflected the pride they have in their fishing industry. Bright, modern and spotlessly clean, we wore covers on our shoes throughout the ship not just in the factory. The bridge was perhaps the most impressive with so many screens, flashing lights and clean shiny surfaces it looked like the Star Ship Enterprise! The technology they have to further ensures they are fishing responsibly,  for example, they are able measure the average size of fish within a shoal before they fish, if they are too small they move on to another shoal.

As you would expect on a trip sponsored by the Norway Seafood Council to a fishing town to see a fishing vessel we were treated to a lot of fish to eat! Every course of every meal (except for breakfast) consisted of fish and it was fabulous. It really show cased the amazing range and quality of their fish.

This flying visit really was an incredible experience. We have worked with Ramoen and other trawlers of their like for years but to actually see one, understand how they work, to see how clean and modern they are, to meet the skipper and the people who fish with pride and passion was a honor. I can be more confident than ever that we are bringing the very best sustainable, fresher than fresh frozen at sea fish, right back here to Exmouth to serve to our customers in Exmouth.

Tim

Please scroll down to see more pictures of my incredible trip to Norway.

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Alison Owens