The Norwegian Model for securing Sustainable Fisheries

Honoured Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for attending this seminar during which we will share an outlook for the Norwegian fisheries. We will focus on the most relevant stocks for the production of Bacalhau for Brazil.

Before I do that, however, I will comment on other aspects of the cooperation between our two countries. Our trade links, span over more than 150 years and it is therefore no surprise that there is a strong bond between Norwegian exporters and Brazilians traders.
Over recent years, our two Fisheries Ministries have developed relations with the aim to promote the development of the fisheries and especially the aquaculture sector in Brazil.

Through exchange of expertise and drawing upon Norwegian experiences and our highly developed fish farming technology, we hope to contribute to a sustainable aquaculture industry in Brazil – especially in Amazonas where the potential for growth and food production is almost unlimited.

Our two Ministries are not only developing close relations but are also cooperating in international organizations promoting good governance of global ocean affairs.
This August I had the great pleasure of receiving minister Marcello Crivella as our guest during our Fisheries Exhibition ”Nor-Fishing”. 

Norway is blessed with great natural resources. 100 years ago, our nation’s industrial development was based on ample water giving us the opportunity to use cheap hydropower in the manufacturing of fertilizer, and changing Bauxite into Aluminium. The Company Norsk Hydro was the major force in these developments. 40 Years ago we found oil and gas on our continental shelf.

This has partly transformed Norway due to the great economic benefits the State draws from the sector.  In the same period, a little in the shadow, the Norwegian Fisheries and Aquaculture industry has achieved great progress. We have developed robust management regimes in cooperation with our neighbours. The best achievement we have had is related to our most important stock – the cod, jointly with Russia.
We have focused on marketing and our consumers and our salmon industry has been at the forefront of this success.  Very importantly, we have focused on long-term stability and sustainability. This has delivered results.

From 1990 to 2011 the export value of seafood products from Norway has increased from 2,1 billion to 9,5 billion US dollar.

Our two biggest export sectors are oil and gas and fisheries/aquaculture. In addition, comes all the service and technology development that has followed and which has also contributed to the progress in both of these sectors. As both have strong maritime links it is fair to say ”The Riches of the Sea are Norway’s Future”. 

In Norway we share most of our fisheries resources - up to 90% - in joint stocks with neighbouring countries. The most important is the agreement we have with Russia whereby we together share and manage the significant cod stock in the Barents Sea.  The rich experience we now have after almost 50 years of close cooperation is firstly, that it is absolutely necessary that marine scientists cooperate with and trust each other. Secondly, it is necessary to have agreed on the allocation key. Without agreement on allocation, agreed management measures are impossible. Unfortunately, this is the current situation when it comes to mackerel.

As I mentioned earlier, the Ocean and its resources are, the backbone of Norway’s economy. Our economic zones are 7 times the size of our land area. And they are very productive, both the shelf with its oil and gas resources, and the waters with large renewable fish stocks. The ocean is important in our national economy.

Therefore it is vital to Norway to play an active role on the international arena when global agreements and instruments like the Law of the Sea, and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries are negotiated.

These international agreements are, however, only the fundament on which we build our fisheries and aquaculture industries. First and foremost we build our decision-making system on scientifically based knowledge. Over time and following a number of mistakes, our national policy on fisheries management has been changed and improved based on what we have learnt.

Today, all decisions are based on scientific advice. That is the knowledge base. This is developed over many years. For more than 100 years, advice from the scientific body, ICES, to the managers has been the starting point for management decisions.

That does not mean however that we always follow the advice. Quite often the Minister of Fisheries will have to look at other factors, and decide to take a different course of action than what the scientists’ advice. And that is fine. Due to the scientific advice we are in a position to take the right decision, and explain why.

As we manage a vast ocean area, and as our marine resources are the backbone of our National economy, we use a lot of resources to manage the marine ecosystems.
I have stressed the importance of a good scientific foundation. Our Institute of Marine Research was established in the year 1900, and today has a staff of 700 people. It runs 8 research vessels which last year had more than 2.800 days at sea.

For 2013, the direct budget contribution from my Ministry to the institute of Marine Research is more than the equivalent of 175 million US dollars. In order to put the research activities and their results to use on a day-to-day basis, the capacity and the competence need to be upgraded in most countries. In Norway we have gradually changed our fisheries sector in line with legislation.

Some of the major changes in legislation are that we have strengthened the laws governing stricter controls, we have increased the efforts on control, and we have sharpened the sanctions. 

To violate fisheries legislation is not ”acceptable” in any way. It is a crime; both to the environment, to the economy and should be dealt with just as seriously as any other crime.

So, to summarise, from our experience the the key to a successful approach is;
• Start with independent research
• Develop a system for scientifically dependent advice
• Take knowledge-based management decisions
• Have a comprehensive legal system in place
• Control as much as your administrative resources permit
• Have in place a system of preventive sanctions

These are the focal areas and the underlying philosophy behind the Norwegian fisheries management system.  In order to manage our marine resources as well as possible, we need to draw on a number of national resources.

I will mention a few as an illustration; 
• The Institute of Marine Research
• The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas
• Our Ministry and our Directorates
• The Navy – our Coast Guard is a part of our Armed Forces
• Fishing Sector self-control through their sales organizations
• The Police and Interpol
• The Tax Authorities, The Customs, The Courts

As this illustrates, many elements of the Norwegian Society play an important role up-holding our management systems and helping to provide me with the information and advice that I as Minister need to take decisions.

As I have described, we have created a situation in which we have tight controls over fishing activities, and also over the different regulatory decisions that are implemented.  To further improve the management, Norway and Russia embarked on a process about 10 years ago to develop management strategies for different stocks.

The development of management strategies is only possible if all relevant information is available both for managers and for scientists. A management strategy is basically to move powers from the biologists to the Ministers. It would be difficult to argue against such division of labour.
A management strategy sets the objective for the cod management, while the scientists deliver the figures which inform the managers about what they have to do to follow the plan, and/or what their options are?

It has taken a tremendous amount of effort from Russia and Norway in carefully strengthening the cod-stock to make it robust and resilient towards temperature changes, IUU fishing, and more.
Just a short summary for the ones furthest back in the room. The Cod Quota agreed between Norway and Russia on the Barents Sea Cod is the highest ever – one million tonnes and prospects are that this positive stock situation will remain in place for many years to come.

So, dear friends of Norwegian fish; the future for cod lovers is bright. The overall situation on fish stocks in the Barents Sea is very good – the highest combined biomass of ground fish measured in the last 50 years The Norwegian fisheries sector is in a period of high stability and predictability Government policies focus on maintaining stability and profitability in the industry; from the Norwegian fisherman to the Brazilian importer. And most important; the Consumer.

Thank you for your kind interest and attention.

 

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