60 countries now support the Norwegian initiative against fisheries crime
News story | Date: 31/03/2023 | Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
In 2018, Norway and eight other countries initiated a global ministers’ declaration against fisheries crime – known as the Copenhagen Declaration. Last week, nine new countries signed the declaration, which is now supported by a total of 60 countries.
“The considerable support for the Declaration is remarkable. Norway is and shall be an important partner in the global struggle against illegal fishing, economic crime and human trafficking that threatens coastal communities, the fishing industry and the resource base. Through Blue Justice, countries can cooperate and exchange knowledge in order to combat fisheries crime”, says Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Bjørnar Skjæran.
On Thursday, March 23rd, Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Bjørnar Skjæran and Minister of International Development, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, welcomed participants to the first ever ministerial conference on fisheries crime. Norway organised this year’s conference in Copenhagen, together with the United Nations Development Programme.
Nine coastal and island states signed the Declaration. These countries are Mauritania, Dominica, Barbados, Madagascar, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia, Angola, Tuvalu and Guinea. Liberia also formalised its previous accession during the conference. View the list of countries supporting the Declaration (updated).
Close to 40 ministers from coastal and island states worldwide spoke at the conference. They spoke about organised fisheries crime and how fish stocks and the livelihoods of fishers are under serious threat due to crime.
Global cooperation and increased use of digital tools are important in order for the world to achieve the UN’s goal of sustainable oceans. Norway is working to be able to offer satellite data directly from Norwegian satellites to developing countries through the initiative. Many countries thanked Norway for its support in combatting fisheries crime.
The states also highlighted the importance of the international vessel tracking centre in Vardø, which shares analysis and data with countries that have joined the initiative.
Northern Norwegian technology at the forefront
Norway has come a long way in combatting fisheries crime in its own waters. Technological solutions and assistance from Norwegian expert communities are now key. Minister of International Development Tvinnereim thinks this is positive.
“Through the Blue Justice initiative, we are assisting developing countries with, among other things, satellite data and guidance to uncover illegal fishing. Barentswatch in Tromsø has developed digital solutions and the vessel tracking centre in Vardø communicates data and analysis about illegal vessels, so that they can be stopped. It is great that Northern Norwegian expertise is enabling this assistance”, says Tvinnereim.
She adds that she feels proud when she hears about how important Norwegian efforts have been for many countries and how many more wish to cooperate with Norway.
“This is truly excellent assistance: Help to achieve self-subsistence at the same time as we contribute to sustainable management”, says the Minister of International Development.
Hub in Jamaica
During the conference, a “Blue Justice hub” was launched in the Caribbean. The hub will be located in Jamaica and will contribute to better regional cooperation among the 14 countries in the region that are participating in the initiative.
Fact box 1: The Copenhagen Declaration
The Copenhagen Declaration was adopted in Copenhagen in 2018 by Norway and eight other countries. 60 countries have now joined the Copenhagen Declaration, more than 1/3 of the world’s coastal states. The Declaration states that the world must acknowledge that organised crime is threatening the global fishing industry and encompasses illegal fishing, economic crime and human trafficking.
Fact box 2: About Blue Justice and the Copenhagen Declaration
Norway launched the ‘Blue Justice Initiative’ in 2019. This venture is intended to assist countries in preventing fisheries crime, internationally. The initiative is followed up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and forms part of a cooperation with, among others, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Among other things, the cooperation is implemented via an international vessel tracking centre in Vardø established in 2021 and through the use of the digital cooperation platform Blue Justice Community, enabling secure state-to-state cooperation against fisheries crime. The Blue Justice Community is a Norwegian-developed platform and is managed by the United Nations via UNDP. The Blue Justice Initiative’s tracking centre shares its base with the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries’ and the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s joint analysis unit hosted at the Vardø Vessel Traffic Service Centre.