16 year old makes $120 (USD) an hour

Cod tongues are considered a delicacy in Norway and is highly sought after. Children and teenagers who live close to the landing factories, have made their fortunes for decades cutting tongues from cods.

The cod fishing season in Lofoten is now well started and the fishing boats are delivering their catch to the landing factories along the coast. In Ballstad in Lofoten stands 16 year old Trygve Pettersen on the factory floor cutting cod tongues. He is a high school student and just smiles when asked why is not at school. -My dad called me last night and told me they were delivering 15 tons of cod here today. I decided to take a study day home, Trygve tells newspaper Lofotposten. -But this is my first day away from school this year, he quickly adds.


16 year old Trygve Pettersen. Both photos by Kai Nikolaisen

Started early

Trygve says he started as ha tongue cutter when he was 6 years old. -I am happy we live here in Lofoten so close to the landing factory where I have this opportunity to make such good money. Tongue cutting is surely good business, he says.

On Friday he expects to cut at least 100 kg of tongues.

-I expect to be here about 5 hours to do the 100 kilograms. I get around $6 per kg. So for the 5 hours I work today, that should be about $120 an hour. -A bit better than standing in a shop, Trygve says with a smile.


Goes to USA

Trygve is going to USA next year as an exchange student.

-I have saved money for a long time on tongue cutting and I have been with my father out to sea. I have saved enough money to finance my studies, and I am really satisified with that, Trygve says. -It’s important to make ones own money. -I get what I need from my parents, but its really nice to have my own money when I want something special.

Trygve has been to sea with his father every holiday for years, but has decided he will not be a fisherman. -Being a fisherman is great work, but it isn’t what I want. I want to create something of my own, and be my own boss, says Trygve Pettersen to newspaper Lofotposten.


 Tongue cutters – the Movie

It’s a long tradition for children along the coast in Norway to work as tongue cutters from the age of 5 till about 18. This was nicely captured in the newly released Movie “Tongue Cutters” that was released in Norway earlier this year. Take a look at the trailer here: