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Photo: The Norwegian Seafood Export Council.Photo: The Norwegian Seafood Export Council

Economic instruments

A fish stock is not an inexhaustible resource, and limited entry into commercial fishing is necessary in order to adjust the fleet capacity to the resource base in order to ensure profitable and sustainable fisheries.

Norway has limited-entry fisheries management schemes in most fisheries, where the participating vessels are allocated vessel quotas (see Participation). Together with strict enforcement of quota restrictions, this ensures the sustainability of fisheries resources.  

However, due to continually increasing productivity in the fisheries, Norwegian fisheries authorities must at all times consider and assess different market-based measures to ensure the profitability and efficiency of the fleet.  

At present, there is in place a system for quota consolidation in the fishing fleet called the Structural Quota System, which allows the fleet to consolidate quotas on fewer vessels. In this way the system facilitates increased vessel profitability. However, other considerations are also taken into account, including regional policies. A geographically dispersed fishing fleet must be maintained in order to support coastal communities and their cultural heritage. Some restrictions are therefore implemented, including maximum quotas, geographically limited markets, transactions only within vessel groups and mandatory scrapping. 

The main principle of the Structural Quota System is that a vessel owner can buy another vessel and transfer the other vessel’s quota (a structural quota) to his vessel. The vessel that hands over the structural quota must then be scrapped. During the last few years, the Structural Quota System resulted in the following degree of structural quotas (traded quotas) in selected vessel groups:


Vessel group

Percentage structural quotas

Purse seiners herring


Pelagic trawlers


Coastal vessels herring


Cod trawlers


Ocean-going line fishing vessels for cod


Coastal vessels cod



Further information about the structural policy for the Norwegian fishing fleet is available here.



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