Melting ice spawns record cod catch

Helped by global warming, Norway’s near monopoly on the stuff of fish’n'chips is about to grow.

Melting ice spawns record cod catch
Saipal (File)

Fishermen and scientists in Norway agree they’ve never seen as much cod as they’re catching now, and they say melting Arctic ice is the reason.

“On behalf of future generations, I’m truly glad,” fisherman Kaare Ludvigsen told broadcaster NRK.

Researchers have said melting ice has opened up larger areas of shallower Arctic water in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea into which young fish can flee predators. They confirm their test catches have turned up record numbers of yearlings destined to become commercial fish — they say 120 billion “individuals”.

In contrast to Atlantic Canada, where the cod fishery collapsed in the 1980s due to overfishing, Norway’s commercial cod banks are the richest in the world. Coastal waters stretching into the Arctic from the Lofoten Islands to the Svalbard archipelago are the site of spawning for three types of migrating cod schools.

That migration now runs farther north than ever, and Russian and Norwegian researchers have found spawning fish in the high latitudes.

Such is the cod’s new clout that Norwegian fishermen are worried the seabed where the fish dine will be stripped clean for future generations of cod. They have also asked for larger quotas to fish to make room for other species.

Ludvigsen’s fishermen colleagues met in Trondheim this week to discuss whether there were “too many” fish in the sea and agreed to more than double their catch in 2012 to 751,000 tonnes.

Norway exported a record 1.12 billion kroner worth of wild cod in September, but not since the starvation years post-World War II has there been so much cod to catch.

In the Arctic, meanwhile, seasonal ice floes have shrunk to their smallest covering in 8,000 years.

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Discover Norway: Why Norwegians love Fårikål so much

The last Thursday of September marks 'fårikålens dag', a day to celebrate Norway's beloved national dish - an autumn meal-time staple for most Norwegians. 

Discover Norway: Why Norwegians love Fårikål so much

In 1972, fårikål was first named the national dish of Norway, and despite a brief flirtation with the possibility of replacing it in 2014 has remained the top dog ever since. 

Some of the meals that fårikål beat out to remain the national dish are kjøttkaker, a type of meatballs, raspeball, a potato dumpling, and pinnekjøtt, the lamb’s ribs traditionally served at Christmas. 

The dish’s name is a compound, meaning “mutton in cabbage”. It consists of pieces of mutton or lamb on the bone, whole peppercorns, and layers of green cabbage. The name draws its roots from the Danish language originally. 

For many, fårikål is the quintessential autumn dish as its typically only served during this time, potatoes are in season and sheep are typically brought down from mountain farms during this time. It is normally accompanied with crispy, paper-thin flatbread and boiled potatoes.  

Many Norwegians will associate the taste, and smell, of the dish with the changing of the seasons and auburn leaves. Other classic autumn dishes are lapskaus, or “stew”, baked root vegetables, mushroom soups, and blueberry muffins. 

READ MORE: Where are Norway’s Michelin star restaurants?

Fårikål first rose to prominence in the 19th century and is believed to have originated in urban areas. One of the first original recipes was in the Fuldstænd Norsk Kogebog by Karen Dorothea. That early recipe suggested that mutton could act as a substitute for a goose. 

If you wish to make the dish yourself, there is no need to fear as it is a relatively easy meal to make. However, it will take some time to prepare it. Depending on the recipe you use, it could take anywhere between an hour or three to make. As with most stew or casserole type dishes, longer normally delivers the best results. 

Recipes for the meal are available in both English and Norwegian. Below you can see a video of the dish being prepared. 

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