Norwegian Fishing History Part IV

Norwegian Fishing History Part IV

North Sea herring

The North Sea herring was also the subject of overfishing in the 1960s, and the population declined sharply in subsequent years. From 1970, regulations were put in place, and a few years a fishing ban was introduced. Fishing reopened in the first half of the 1980s.

Total catches increased until 1989, when it reached 667,000 tonnes, but has since declined. Norway’s share has fallen from over 220,000 tonnes in the years 1986-1999 to about 120,000 tonnes in the years 1991-1994. In 2005, Norway’s quota was 166,000 tonnes.

Blow fishing

The capelin fishery in the Barents Sea reached a peak in 1977 with a total quantity of 2.9 million tonnes, of which 2.1 million tonnes went to Norway. Up to 1984, annual catches were 1.6–2.3 million tonnes, and then drastically reduced. In 1985–1986, the capelin stock in the Barents Sea collapsed, and a catch ban was introduced in 1987. The ban lasted until 1991, when fishing for capelin was again open for three years, with a catch quantity between 530,000 and 810,000 tonnes.

In 1994, bans were again introduced in the Barents Sea. Fishing reopened in 1999 with a Norwegian quota of 48,000 tonnes, with a quota peak in 2002 of 383,000 tonnes. In 2004 and 2005 there was again no quota in the Barents Sea.

Norwegian shrimp fishing takes place in the Barents Sea, at Svalbard and Greenland, in the North Sea and the Skagerrak and elsewhere along the coast. For many years, shrimp fishing was a typical coastal fishery, but evolved through the 1970s and 1980s into a deep sea fishery. Catch quantities increased from just under 8,000 tonnes in 1971 to just over 91,000 tonnes in 1985. Later, catches decreased to approximately 40,000 tonnes in 1996. In 2004, 59,000 tonnes were landed. Shrimp fishing, with few exceptions, has not been subject to regulations.

Shared stocks and fishing on the high seas

Around 80 per cent of Norwegian fishing is carried out on stocks Norway manages in collaboration with other coastal states, mainly Russia and the EU. The cooperation is based on the fact that the stocks migrate between the economic zones of the respective states.

However, Norwegian Arctic cod and Norwegian spring spawning herring also migrate into international waters. The absence of regulations for fishing in international waters has led to unregulated fishing from countries that do not have quotas on these stocks while staying in international waters (see Smutthullet, Smutthavet).

Fishing in international waters was dealt with during UN conferences in 1993–1995. The agreement on fisheries on the high seas (1995) draws lines for future cooperation on the management of common resources in international waters (see sea rights).

Fishermen and vessels, industry and export

The Norwegian fishing fleet has a differentiated structure and includes everything from factory ships to the smallest open vessels. The fleet comprises about 7550 vessels with deck (2003). The number of covered vessels has decreased significantly in the last 4–5 years. The number of open vessels has dropped sharply over the last 30 years; from about 28,000 in 1970 to 2366 in 2003.

For many years there was a sharp decline in the number of fishermen. From 1960 to 1975 the number of full-time and part-time fishers decreased from 61,000 to 35,000. In the period after 1983, the decline leveled off somewhat. In recent years there has again been a sharp reduction in the number of professional fishermen. In 2003, the total number of fishermen was 17,259, of which 13,260 were fishing as a sole or main occupation, and 3999 as a secondary occupation.

Fisheries and processing industries are composed of a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises. In 2003, the industry employed approximately 13,000 people nationwide and consisted of 558 companies with a total turnover of NOK 56.9 billion. Of these, 214 operated with conventional production (production of fresh, salt, cut and dry fish, and so on), 66 with manufacture of frozen products, 8 with canned production, 11 with shrimp production and 11 herring oil and herring flour mills (2003).

The Norwegian fishing industry exports approximately 90 per cent of the quantity claimed through approved exporters (513 in 2003). The export value from the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industry has quadrupled since 1983, and in 2004 was NOK 28.2 billion. This represents around six per cent of Norway’s total exports. Of this, export value of farmed products (salmon and trout) amounted to just over NOK 12.3 billion. Norway exports approximately 2000 different fish products to 147 countries, of which the EU (with 61 per cent), Japan, the United States and Brazil constitute the most important markets.

International requirements

The fishing industry and fisheries management are increasingly faced with demands for sustainable development and environmental requirements. The introduction of the 200-mile economic zone in 1977 and the subsequent 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea gave Norway, along with other coastal states, both the right and the obligation to carry out sound management of fishery resources.

The UN Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (UNCED), in which Agenda 21 recommends the “precautionary principle” in the management of natural resources, illustrates a development in which global requirements and guidelines must be used in fisheries management.

In 1995, the United Nations Food Organization (FAO) developed guidelines for the implementation of a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

Management and legislation

The Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs is the top management body for the fisheries and aquaculture industry and the seal and whaling industry. It manages the legislation that regulates the industries and issues regulations based on the legislation. The Directorate of Fisheries in Bergen is the Ministry’s foremost advisory and executive body in fisheries, aquaculture and marine environment matters.

The fisheries legislation encompasses a number of laws and regulations that regulate the management of fishery resources and the economic organization of the fishing industry. The legislation on saltwater fishing, freshwater fishing and catching of marine mammals can be divided into the following main groups:

  1. laws and regulations on the practice of fishing and fishing, including who can fish within the Norwegian economic zone, rules on how to fish, rules on the conservation of fish and minimum targets for certain fish species, general rules of competition and more, and various provisions about fishing vessels and fishing gear.
  2. law and regulations on fish farming
  3. laws and regulations governing the processing and processing of fish, including provisions on quality control and provisions on packaging and transport
  4. laws and regulations on the sale and export of fish and fish products, including provisions on first-hand sales
  5. provisions on the procurement and marketing of fishing vessels and gear
  6. laws and regulations relating to investment and operating credit and other financial matters
  7. fishermen’s social security, lottery guarantee, insurance of vessels and gear
  8. the Fisheries Guidance Act
  9. law and regulations on fishing for salmon and sea trout in sea and waterways and inland fishing


Education in the fisheries and aquaculture industry is provided in the education programs for nature use and for restaurant and food sciences in upper secondary education. The former education program provides professional letters in the fishing and trapping and aquaculture subjects; the latter provides professional letters in the seafood trade and fish trader trade.

The Norwegian School of Fisheries in Tromsø has a national responsibility for higher fisheries research and education with study programs in fisheries, aquaculture, marine biology, freshwater biology, biotechnology, fish health, business management, business economics, social economy and social sciences.

There are also other fishery-oriented educational programs at universities and colleges. The University of Bergen offers teaching in aquaculture, fisheries biology, fish health, marine biology, and nutrition in fish and more. The Norwegian School of Economics offers a master’s degree program specializing in fisheries and aquaculture economics.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim has a master’s degree program specializing in food / biochemistry, fisheries technology and processing, as well as marine engineering. The Norwegian University of Environmental and Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås offers a bachelor’s and master’s degree program in aquaculture as well as specialization in fish health. Furthermore, several state colleges have fishery-oriented educational programs.

The fisheries education in Norway dates back to 1890, when some schools started teaching fishery subjects. In 1938, the first fishery school was established in Vardø (the state’s professional school for the fishing industry), and in 1939 a vocational school at Aukra. The fisheries schools were subject to the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, but were transferred from 1973 to the Ministry of Church, Education and Research.

Catch volume in 1000 tonnes

Species 1910 1930 1950 1970 1980 2005
Cod 167 219 196 310 281 225
Pollock 29 26 68 123 177 229
haddock 10 25 18 30 68 63
Long 7 4 6 12 27 15
Greenland halibut 1 2 14 3 16
tusk 7 4 5 13 37 12
redfish 1 2 3 3 9 13
Herring 260 643 889 283 14 744
mackerel 10 9 10 313 78 120
Blue whiting 149 739
Tobis 1 148 17
capelin 4 4 1 301 1 118 67
Norway pout 122 130 0
sprat 2 3 6 14 77 2
Shrimp 0.4 1.3 2.3 8 45 48
Lobster 0.4 0.6 1 0.2 0.08 0.06
Crab 1 3 3 2 6
King crab 1
Catch everything 529 994 1 279 2 707 2 400 2 383

Norwegian Fishing History 4