The company began in 1927 as a cooperative with the goal of giving fishermen more negotiation power against exporters. What started as an organization focused on obtaining the correct price for each catch morphed into a business that completes trades from first-hand sales and keeps track of fish quotas that are set by the government.
“We have a responsibility to the public as a whole when it comes to adhering to quotas to keep the fish populations at healthy levels,” says Paul Magnus Oma, Managing Director. Norges Sildesalgslag deals exclusively in pelagic fish, mainly herring, mackerel and blue whiting.
The system used by the company is quite impressive and leads to a more seamless exchange of product directly from the boat to the buyer. The cooperative runs and manages an online auction platform to trade each catch that is reported.
When the fishing boat makes a catch, the captain communicates to Norges Sildesalgslag the exact size of the catch and where they would like to sell it. The company then informs the relevant buyers in the bidding area and puts the fish up for auction.
“The bigger the catch, the wider the bidding area,” explains Mr. Oma. When the auction is over, the business tells the captain who won and where the vessel should go to unload the catch. Auctions are held eight times a day: five times for human consumption catches and three times for fishmeal and fish oil catches.
“We’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” adds Mr. Oma. “Since we deal in fresh fish, time is of the essence.”
The cooperative is a household name in Norway and neighbouring Denmark, but it has international ambitions. To increase its activity in foreign markets, representatives of the company visit fish fairs, invite interested parties to seminars and have direct contact with the major players in other countries.
“Our marketplace is used as the benchmark for pelagic fish pricing all over Europe, and we’re working on expanding our reach,” states Mr. Oma. Most importantly, the firm makes sure fishermen get the right price and the processor gets the raw product.