Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth

The Hague, The Netherlands

Minister of Fisheries Elisabeth Aspaker speech the Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growtht .

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Ladies and gentlemen!

“The Riches from the Sea – Norway’s Future” has been our slogan for many years. We have worked hard to make this come true. 

Many countries in the world:

-          have the same opportunity,

-          have the same potential

-          and could apply the same slogan as their ambition. 

I shall exemplify with policies set - and actions taken - in order to illustrate that Blue Growth is possible.



The sea is a vital provider of both living and non-living resources. It is important to realize that the living resources are renewable, but not limitless. 

The concept of sustainable development, as coined by the Brundtland Commission in the mid 1980s, argues that we must manage our resources so that future generations also can enjoy them. 

This very concept is at the centre of Norwegian policy making – hence our approach towards the living resources of the sea. 

The Declaration: “The Future we want” from Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, recognized the significant contribution of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, to;

-          food-security,

-          income and wealth,

-          and poverty reduction for present and future generations. 

Paragraph 113 of the Declaration reads:

“We also stress the crucial role of healthy marine ecosystems,

sustainable fisheries, and sustainable aquaculture for food security and nutrition, and in providing for the livelihoods of millions of people”. 

Seafood can be a key source of protein, as well as other essential nutrients and micronutrients. Seafood plays a significant, but not yet fully recognized, role in global food security and nutrition.   

And so, efforts should be made to properly address and understand the role of seafood in combating hunger and malnutrition.  

Our best platform for change is; 

-          the way we look at our waters,

-          the way we manage our marine industries,

-          the way the global community cooperate in benefiting from the common resources of the high seas and on the sea-bed.  

For the best of mankind. 


The challenge ahead is to meet the increase in world population - with increased food production. The elimination of hunger is a condition for reducing poverty. 

But at the same time it is recognized that at large; the world’s food production systems are unsustainable. The state of the world marine fisheries is worsening. 

This cannot continue! 

We must change our way of producing food. We must produce food in a way that does not put the health of our ecological environment at risk. 

Norway, and a few other countries, have shown that the declining trend in fish catches can be changed from downwards to upwards. 

Our most valuable fish stock, the North East Atlantic Cod, managed jointly with Russia, is at present at a historically high level. 

It is possible.

Norway’s approach to aquaculture is similar. Environmental sustainability within aquaculture is more than just a catchword;

it is a basic prerequisite for the very existence and profitability of the business.


Economic sustainability is also necessary in order to have a viable fisheries and aquaculture sector in the long run. 

Norway has removed all previous subsidy-schemes in the fisheries sector. Subsidies are the main contributor to over-capacity. We have allowed owners of more than one boat with fishing quotas to scrap one boat, and fish more on the remaining vessel. 

This has raised the economy in our fisheries to a competitive level. 

The social dimension has been taken care of through both the economic and societal policies in Norway at large: 

Everyone can benefit from all opportunities.

Everyone can get a free education.

Transformation is the norm. 

There has been a necessary reduction of the number of fishermen to meet the economic requirements of the remaining. Former fishermen have found work in other sectors. 


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Each country must find its model. But there are some factors that have been important to us, that I think are important for everyone:

We must end discards of less attractive catches in fisheries. Discard of fish is a waste of food. In Norway we have worked systematically to end discards since the late 1980s. Discards still occur in Norwegian fisheries.

Even so – it is important that we have a clear attitude - and a clear law against this.

We also need to work methodically to protect juveniles. The production line of the sea must be allowed to work.

We must harvest the fish when it is appropriate. This is about “boring” technical regulations - range adjustment, mesh size, equipment design. Even so: It is no less important.

We must also be willing to listen to marine scientists.

Not only when they give us advice about increasing quotas,

but especially when they give us advice about reducing them.

Long-term sustainability requires a commitment to long-term thinking.

The same applies to aquaculture. Institutions set in place to ensure that aquaculture activities do not harm the environment, must be allowed to grow as the business grows. Aquaculture activities that are harmful to the environment are in turn also harmful to the aquaculture business.

If aquaculture shall be able to achieve its rightful place - both a provider of food and socially and economically sustainable jobs – the business must be able to operate steadily.  Not “on and off” as the situation quickly becomes if you do not regulate the industry - for instance to prevent the spread of disease.

Nature itself is the production facility of the aquaculture industry. The industry itself - and the authorities that regulate the industry – should ensure that the production facility is clean, neat and

maximizes production conditions.

At the core of all these factors is the interaction between management, research, industry and society at large. Stakeholder involvement is the key to achieving results. This should be an obvious element of any management system.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies, fellow ministers;

To conclude:

The marine areas are vast and under-utilized.

We have examples that downward trends can be reversed.

We have examples that marine sectors such as fisheries and aquaculture can be managed in a way that meets the three dimensions of sustainability; environmental, social and economic.   

Blue Growth is really possible!

The marine areas, which represent 70 % of the world’s surface, can give mankind a better future through food, opportunities and wealth.

If we care for the oceans, the oceans will care for us.

Thank you for your kind attention!