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Photo: IMR.Photo: IMR

Ensuring sustainable marine living

24.10.2011 // As a part of Norway’s strategy to ensure a sustainable management of the marine living resources, a major effort has been made to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries (IUU fishing) and marine living resources crime (MLR crime).

IUU fishing occurs both within areas under national jurisdiction and on the high seas. Despite multiple efforts by global organisations, regional bodies and states, IUU fishing seems to persist. Fighting IUU fishing has been one of the highest priorities for Norway.  


International developments

On the international level, Norway has initiated or supported several important initiatives. One development in this regard is the FAO Port State Control Agreement, which was signed in in 2009. This agreement aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets through ports. In practical terms, this means that foreign vessels will provide advance notice and request permission for port entry, countries will conduct regular inspections in accordance with universal minimum standards, offending vessels will be denied use of port or certain port services and information sharing networks will be created. Another provision is the blacklisting and dissemination of lists of IUU vessels. Similar measures have been implemented in several regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) that Norway is party to. In addition to this, there is an ongoing process of developing international guidelines for flag state responsibilities.

Another tool aimed to combat IUU-fisheries and marine living resources crime is the implementation of catch certificates. Catch certificates are aimed to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the market – and as a consequence – to negatively influence market competition.

Additionally, Norway has sought to address the issues of unreported and unregulated fisheries by reducing discards of fish.. Not only is discarding fish a massive waste of food and potential income, but it also leads to unrecorded catches that is not taken into account in the scientific advice. International guidelines for discard were adopted by FAO in February 2011, and Norway has been deeply involved in the work prior to the adoption.  

There is also a transnational character to these problems. This means that one needs transnational cooperative measures as well. Norway currently has cooperative control agreements with several other states including Russia, Iceland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Canada and Poland.


National developments

On the national level, Norway has implemented several measures in order to address the issues of IUU fishing and marine living resources crime. One example is the provisions laid out in the Marine Resourches Act which came into force in January, 2009.  The Act introduces coercive and infringement fines as penalties to marine living resources crime. Additionally, the Act opens up for the punishment of Norwegian citizens and legal persons for MLR-crimes committed in other states’ jurisdictional areas.


Norway has had a ban of discard since 1987

A well-developed legal framework is dependant of an efficient system of enforcement and control mechanisms – also when it comes to combating IUU fisheries. These enforcement mechanisms are directed at the entire production chain, from when the fish is caught in the sea, through its storage and sale to its export abroad. Both Norwegian and foreign fishing vessels are subject to stringent controls in all Norwegian fishing waters. The Coast Guard and the Directorate for Fisheries annually performs more than 1,800 inspections of Norwegian and foreign vessels operating in Norwegian waters and at port. There are also vessel monitoring systems (VMS) in place.

Control activities are also carried out by the fishermen’s own sales organisations, through a gathering of statistics in connection with first-hand sale of fish and fish products.

Norway and Russia have achieved good results regarding these questions in the Barents Sea.

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