The production of klippfish (salt cod) boasts a long tradition in Norway. The very first klippfish production started at Fosen in 1691 and by the mid 18th century, production had spread to the entire barren coastal Møre og Romsdal region in Western Norway. The region boasted historically rich cod fisheries, natural coastal rocks and cliffs for drying, and a dry, cool climate with long periods of stable, windy spring weather in April/May - ideal for salting and drying cod. The cliffs would be cleaned of dirt and residues and rubbed with salt before being covered with fish. Historic photographs show scenes of these rocks abundant with drying fish and the town's women and children tending the drying process.
Some "traditional quality" klippfish production still exists today in Kristiansund and along the western coast of Norway, but has considerably decreased. The few remaining small-scale producers obtain skrei (Gadus morhua cod), coming from the sustainable Northeast arctic cod stocks. Coastal fishers on small fishing boats, using sustainable fishing techniques of special cod fishing nets and long lines and hooks, catch the fish from January to April and deliver them fresh to the producer. Thus begins the four-month or more crafts production process of dry salting, drying, quality sorting and further salting and drying.
Since mid 1900's klippfish have been dried in wind tunnels that simulate the exterior coast climate. Still, the constant monitoring and repositioning of the fish within the tunnels for optimal drying and quality is a human endeavor and depends on the skills of the craftsmen.
The production of quality traditional salt cod is almost non-existent today. Most salt cod found on the market is produced from fish caught by trawlers or large boats with mechanized long lines operating 24-hours a day during the season. Catches are frozen and delivered to large-scale producers who use mechanized production processes. Modern salt cod production leaves no space for local culture and craftsmanship.
The Presidium was created to protect the artisanal production of high quality salt cod, produced only from skrei caught by fishers on small fishing vessels that use traditional fishing methods that maintain the fish quality and minimize by-catch. The project aims to ensure the survival of small salt cod producers and coastal fishers, guarentee them a fair price for their work, and protect their traditional techniques. The Presidium brings together a group of the few remaining small producers to develop a detailed production protocol that sets strict standards for fishing and production. Another goal is to increase the local awareness of the production, hopefully through the development of a klippfish working museum in Kristiansund.
The northwest coast of Norway and the klippfish heritage town of Kristiansund
Norwegian Traditional Fish Producers Association
tel. +47 95146623
tel. +47 92069412
tel. +47 70185021 - +47 92069412
tel. +47 71261543 - +47 92069412
tel. +47 71515102 - +47 93017841
tel. +47 70190421 - +47 90234585