IUU fishing was putting heavy pressure on the cod stock, and having serious impacts on the fishing industry and coastal communities that are dependent on fishing. Between 2005 and 2009, IUU fishing was gradually eliminated through the active efforts of the Norwegian and Russian authorities.
This is a victory for the environment and for fisheries management in Norway and Russia, and also for law-abiding fishermen and for the community as a whole. Pirate fishermen and their criminal networks were stealing resources to a value of more than a billion Norwegian kroner a year.
Efforts to combat IUU fishing, together with joint management strategies and Norwegian-Russian cooperation on resource control, have been very important in improving the state of the Barents Sea cod stock, which is now highly satisfactory. In fact, this is the healthiest cod stock in the world, and can support a rich harvest for Norwegian and Russian fishermen.
There has been considerable international support for Norway and Russia’s efforts. Important elements have been port state controls, direct bilateral cooperation and more exchange of information.
The new EU requirements for catch certification have made it even more difficult to land illegal catches in Europe or export them to Europe, and through FAO, a global agreement on port state measures has now been adopted. This will make it easier to combat IUU fishing in other parts of the world. One of Norway’s main reasons for working towards a global agreement has been precisely to ensure that the problem is dealt with at global level, not only in Norwegian and neighbouring waters.