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The rise and fall of factory trawlers: An eclectic approach

By Dag Standal


Factory trawlers are the most controversial vessel group in Norwegian fisheries. At the time the fleet emerged, stern trawling in combination with on-board processing of cod fillets was regarded as a major innovation. However, the deep-sea fleet was intended to be a stable supplier of fish to the land-based industry. Factory trawlers were not a part of the political project. On the contrary, the vessels represented a serious departure from the traditional employment system for the fisheries' dependent districts. Factory trawlers have, since the seventies, been regarded as the main enemy to the coastal vessels and the land-based industry. The vessels have been subject to a profound debate about several built-in contradictory goals for the fisheries policy, such as the ideal of employment for all and the need for a profitable sector without state subsidies. Despite a series of policy-driven initiatives to remove the factory trawlers, the fleet has been one of the most profitable vessel groups in the Norwegian fisheries. Nonetheless, the fleet is now marginalised in the number of vessels and transformed into an obedient supplier of round fish to the land-based industry. In this article, we outline the history of the Norwegian factory trawlers and how the fleet was subject to a series of critical changes reflecting the complexity of the vessels.Factory trawling Cod trawling Fisheries politics

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