(Updated February 2011)
The fishing industry is the second largest export sector in Norway after oil and gas. The industry includes the traditional fishing, as well as fish farming and processing of all kinds of seafood at onshore facilities. Due to various factors, such as new technology and equipment, restructuring, international competition, restricted quotas etc., the traditional fishing industry has undergone a number of changes during the past few years. These factors have affected the Norwegian fishing industry in such a way that production of fish and seafood products has increased, while at the same time the number of job vacancies in this sector has been reduced considerably.
The Norwegian seafood production consists of many different branches and has a great variety both in technology, production methods and profitability. It is therefore often difficult to discuss it in terms of one unit. In addition the variety in seasons and natural variations make it rather unpredictable.
The Norwegian exports of farmed seafood is now much bigger than the wild caught seafood (62 /38 percent). The former experiences a golden era, while the traditional fishing industry has been facing tough times with a reduction in prices and volume in most cod family products with following considerably decrease in employment. Nevertheless, 2010 showed new records both in the export value for the traditional cod products, due to a very good fishing season with big volume and lower prices, and for the farmed fish which has been steadily growing during the last years. The farmed seafood is not so labour intensive and can not make up for the employment reduction in the whitefish production.
A reduced access to wild caught fish and less production of fish fillet in Norway are factors that have characterized the traditional fishing industry during the last decade. The number of processing factories has been reduced by one third while the number of employees is reduced to the half. Many factories now aim to produce all year round so the need for seasonal workers is by far not the same as it used to be. Therefore there is no pressing need for recruiting seasonal workers. The labour market for workers in the Norwegian fishing industry varies somewhat according to the time of year. Some may have different seasons of production according to the kind of fish being processed, availability etc. Production can also be dependent on weather conditions and quotas.
There are also some jobs for skilled workers on a permanent basis involving work all year round, like in the fish factories which are spread all along the coast of Norway. In some places fish farming companies (mostly salmon) have fillet production too, but most of the work is in slaughtering and packing. The employers will be asking for people with former experience within fish production and preferably with “Scandinavian” language skills.
For short-term employment, most recruitment is done well before the start of the relevant season. The majority of these jobs are not publicly advertised, as companies tend to use their own network and contacts to recruit workers from other countries. Most factories try to keep a permanent all year round number of hands and supply with temporary workers via recruitment agencies to manage the peaks.
If you would like to get a job in Norway, contact your nearest EURES-adviser for information about current vacancies. They can also give you information about working conditions, accommodation, payment, etc.
The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) has a database containing all published vacancies.
You can also look up these vacancies at the EURES Mobility Portal or call NAV Service Centre EURES (lines open from 08:00 - 15:30) on tel. +47 800 33 166 for information about vacancies.
It is possible to send an open application to companies that might be of interest. There is no complete overview of companies within fishing industry, but the link www.io.no/fiskeforedling (only in Norwegian) will give you some kind of insight with the possibility to go directly to some companies’ homesite for more information and link to their vacancies.
Employers require a CV with your personal details and a description of your education, practical experience and a little about your general interests and hobbies.
General information about working and living in Norway is available on the NAV EURES (www.eures.no/english) web sites.
The majority of employers wish to employ people who understand Norwegian and/or can make themselves understood in a "Scandinavian" language. Some companies also use English as part of the working language, so it would be useful if you have a basic understanding of it. Working in the fishing industry can involve operating various kinds of machinery and equipment, which if not handled properly can be dangerous for you. So you will need some of these language skills in order to follow the necessary safety procedures and rules.
In Norway, there are Journeyman Certificates for various positions in the fishing industry. The employers also recruit non-skilled personnel, although experience is often desired. It is compulsory to show a health certificate stating that you have no chronic illness such as tuberculosis etc. before starting to work.
As of April 2010, the basic hourly wage is set at NOK 140 per hour for unskilled labourers. For skilled workers the starting wage is usually NOK 149,50 per hour. In addition, there may be extra pay for overtime, evening/weekend work, production levels etc. These rates are renegotiated every year, usually in early spring.
For some kind of work there may be piecework wages. These can either be paid per kilo or on a per unit rate and can vary from company to company. According to the relevant regulations, piecework wages must in any case be equal to the minimum hourly wage for the hours actually worked.
In Norway trade unions play an important role in the workplace. You may wish to contact them - one of the most important in the industrial sector is the Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions. Among their members is the Norwegian Food and Allied Workers Union, where many workers in the fishing industry are organised.
When you work for a Norwegian employer, you are required to pay tax in Norway. If you reside in Norway for less than six months, special tax rules apply. Bring your employment contract and passport to the nearest tax office ("skattekontor") and apply for a tax card (“skattekort”). If you start working without a tax card, the employer will deduct 50% tax. Otherwise the tax usually amounts to around 1/3 of your pay. See the Norwegian Tax Authority (www.taxnorway.no) for more information.
The work can sometimes be tough and monotonous. For some periods you may find yourself doing a lot of overtime and having to turn up for work at unsociable hours. Employers are looking for reliable staff and will want you to stay at least a year unless otherwise indicated in the job advertisement. Few employers recruit workers for summer jobs only.
Some employers rent out accommodation in shared housing, which means that you will have your own room, but will have to share a living room, kitchen and bathroom with other tenants. Some employers also have apartments available to let. The rent varies, depending on the standard of accommodation. Basic furniture and kitchen/cooking utensils will normally be available.
Since most work in the fishing industry is to be found in the countryside, and public transportation can be very limited, you may need your own transportation to get around.
The number of personnel employed on the fishing boats is more than halved during the last 20 years and the fishing fleet is reduced by 50 % over the last 10 years.
It is not very easy to get a job on a fishing vessel unless you speak Norwegian or a “Scandinavian” language, have former experience and somebody to recommend you. The jobs are mainly filled throughout an internal network. People on board live closely together and often under rough weather conditions for many weeks, this is not a job for everybody.
For jobs on fishing vessels you will need a special security certificate in order to work at sea, and you may have to cover the costs for this course yourself. The main provider of this course is the "Tromsø maritime videregående skole". The course lasts for one week and is organized on a vessel running up and down the coast most of the year. At the internet you can find a list of 35 of the biggest fishing vessels in Norway. See related information for links to the security certificate course and the list of fishing wessels.
There is an Illustrated Norwegian Ships list, vol 1,2 and 3 which is the most used guide to the Norwegian merchant – and fishing fleet, also with text in English. The books should be available in any Norwegian library and can also be bought by the internet. Vol. 2 contains an overview of all registered fishing vessels longer than 15 m.
http://ec.europa.eu/eures/ (EURES Mobility Portal)