Groundfish Forum XXVIII Opening Address
Mr Klaus B. Nielsen

Klaus Nielsen opening address

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen

I would like to welcome you all to the 28th Groundfish Forum in Berlin – we are happy to back in the German capital.

Venue – Berlin

We were in Berlin seven years ago and coming back to the Grand Hyatt Hotel was the obvious choice, it has been and is still one of our favourite destinations – and the Hotel stood out as being one the absolute best. This year marks a special year / and time of the year / to the people of Berlin since it is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall which started November 9th, 1989. It is a very important part of the recent history of Europe – and something that most of us in the room has a quite clear memory of – most of us know where we were when it all happened, and it changed the landscape in Europe. It opened up for more development in Europe, including Russia, people could travel freely. More or less since then trade barriers have been reduced or taken away, it gave much prosperity to many people and changed their lives. You will be able to see some of the celebrations when you go out into the beautiful and historic city of Berlin.


Since the 1990s, the Forum has not only been growing but also developing shape and size-wise. We are fortunate enough still to see a growing interest in participating in the Forum both from senior and junior executives. Thank you for your contribution and engagement.

App – and antitrust compliance

We believe that we have today reached our maximum capacity – we are, naturally still developing the format and in that connection, I would like to draw your attention to our Forum App, which is a proof of that.

And when speaking of our App, I would like to draw attention to the

 “Antitrust Compliance “. It is essential that all Forum participants are aware of the antitrust guidelines, which were approved by the Groundfish Forum Board of Directors usually called the Executive Committee last year.

By invitation only

As I have already mentioned, the interest in joining the Forum has again this year been exceptional. I can assure you that every single new request has been discussed by the Forum, and we continue to value the importance of participation by invitation only principle.

Some of the requests are from new companies. Others are replacing people that have retired or left the industry. As a result of this interest, we again this year have a large number of people here today, who have never attended before. 

In fact, we have almost 40 newcomers – some are replacing former attendees from same companies, but we also have eight new companies on our list. We also have two guest speakers from organizations that have not attended before, but we also have six new speakers from regular Forum companies.

The Young Talent Initiative

The Young Talent Initiative is also a success, although we did not fill up the quota. We have six young people attending this part of the Forum – so I will urge you all to think a bit more about giving this opportunity to young talents in your organizations in the coming years.

Nevertheless I believe that it is safe to conclude that we continue to have good recruitment to our Groundfish stock, but the great majority here today are seafood business executives that come every year and who make time in their busy schedule to attend the Forum. 

Thank you all for your loyalty to the Forum 

Again, this year, I would like to repeat the overall aims of the Forum 

Groundfish Forum is a meeting place for leading members of the groundfish business worldwide. The primary aims of the Forum are to increase understanding of conditions in the groundfish industry, exchange information regarding government resource and other decisions, and provide better opportunities for all industry participants and consumers.

Over the years, we have remained true to these aims, and the structure of the Groundfish Forum has remained mostly the same from the beginning. It has always been by invitation only with a two-day program, four hours each day.

In 2008, the Forum was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Canada. This meant that members of the Groundfish Forum Council became formal shareholders, and this is how we define the Council:

There are 33 subscribers now

The Board of Directors is called the Executive Committee – and it is presently a body of seven members who are responsible for organizing the Forum.

They prepare the program, select the speakers and organize the events in between meetings. They are also responsible for membership and the finances of the Groundfish Forum. 

I would like to recognize members of the Executive Committee. They are: 

  • Torunn Halhjem, Trident Seafoods Corp., United States
  • Knut Hallvard Lerøy, Leroy Seafood AS, Norway
  • Volker Kuntzsch, Sanford Ltd., New Zealand
  • Klaus Nielsen, A. Espersen A/S, Denmark, chairman
  • Felix Ratheb, Sea Harvest Group Ltd., South Africa
  • Mikael Thinghuus, Royal Greenland A/S, Greenland
  • Lisa Webb, Gorton’s Inc., United States

Like everyone here, they are busy people who contribute their time for free, so this is very much volunteer work. We pay our expenses, and we register and pay the conference fee like everybody else. The compensation is a good dinner at the end of the Forum.

Dear colleagues – thank you very much for your work!

Thank you

Before continuing, I would like to add that in many aspects, the 2019 Forum is a very special Forum – you can say it is the Ground Fish Forum 2.0.

In a few minutes, you will experience the first change. Volker and Todd have been doing the Supply and Utilization overview together since 1999 – but this task has now been taken over by Mike Kocsis and Simon Rilatt – the format though will not have changed much, and I am convinced they will do a great job.

We do not have a large staff. Also, on the administration side, it is sort of a Ground Fish Forum 2.0. Alda Möller retired last year, and we have now KOM represented by Vala and Friðjón as our Secretariat, and we have Gisli, who works on registrations and book-keeping, all still from Iceland.

Before I continue, I would like to remind you that the visuals from today and tomorrow will be posted on the Forum website and some of them through the app very soon. The Supply and Disposition overview will be posted just after Mike and Simon finish their presentation. The full edited proceedings will be published in the coming weeks. You should all have received your website access codes from KOM by now. Please respect that the presentations shall not be forwarded in full by anyone as the information is for the Forum only, you can however always use individual slides in your own presentations as long as you make a reference.

And now to the program

Our program is as usual a mixture of standard items and new presentations, and it will be fast paced as usual. The global overview now presented by Mike and Simon has been called the “backbone “of the Forum. People may not realize that a lot of the information they give us is not available through official channels or on the Internet. They and we all rely heavily on the panellists worldwide, most of whom are in this room. And they rely on intense work for some days getting all this together.  

We have two significant presentations this morning on the state of the important Pollock resources of Russia and the US. They are combined by far the largest provider of Groundfish.

Our global resource panel has its place, with a mixture of familiar and new faces. They will each give a brief account of what is happening in their territories, and hopefully, we will have some time for discussion afterwards. The day will end with a very interesting presentation by Antje Schubert on the prospects of the German market and will be a great warm-up for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we start with the German market and Atlantic salmon and then move to the market presentations in full swing, but we will also try to cover what is top of mind for most seafood executives these days. We will have one speech on climate change and the impact on fish resources, another speech on alternative protein or plant-based protein, and we will have two speeches on the ongoing trade difficulties we are facing. Being in the city where the wall was torn down in 1989 and opened up borders and possibilities for trade and travel, it feels strange that the development is at the moment counterproductive and we are facing very serious and challenging times when it comes to trade. I trust you will find the presentations to be all very informative. But, let’s get to work, and with these words, I’d like to turn the floor over to Mike and Simon for their overview of global supply, utilization and market flow.

After their presentation, Torunn Halhjem will take over as the chairman of this session until coffee.

Welcome to the Forum!