Nigeria and Norway strengthen partnership in fight against fisheries crime

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Nigeria has signed up to the international declaration against organised crime in the global fisheries industry – known as the Copenhagen declaration. This took place on 24 August in the presence of Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy Bjørnar Skjæran at the Nor-Fishing expo held in Trondheim.

Nigeria signed the Copenhagen declaration in Trondheim
Special Advisor Akeju Olagbaju of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (centre left) and Bjørnar Skjæran, Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy. Norway’s ambassador to Nigeria, Knut Eiliv Lein, is on the far right. Credit: Yngve Angvik, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries

‘Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy and a major seafaring nation. That’s why I am delighted to welcome Nigeria aboard and grateful that they have opted to support the declaration against organised fisheries crime. This is a global issue, and a significant problem in West Africa. I therefore hope that more African countries follow the Nigerian example and sign up,’ says Bjørnar Skjæran, Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy.

In 2018, Norway and eight other countries made a political declaration to tackle cross-border organised crime in the global fisheries industry. With the Nigerian accession to this declaration, the initiative now has support from 50 coastal nations.

The Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy and the Minister of International Development are both keen to see even more developing countries sign up to the declaration.

‘The fight against fisheries crime is important in our wider struggle against poverty and the pursuit of food security. Organised fisheries crime prevents the good management of fish stocks and it devastates the livelihoods of law-abiding fishermen. Developing countries need all the tax receipts they can get, and fishermen need to be confident that fish stocks will be maintained, says Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister of International Development.

The declaration is underpinned by a range of aid-oriented activities and digital common services for those countries who are partnered up to the declaration through the Norwegian Blue Justice Initiative.

‘In order to extend our reach, we have used the Blue Justice Initiative to focus on digital common services that will provide developing countries with assistance in their work against fisheries crime. This means they will also be able to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by digitalisation and innovation in this area,’ says Bjørnar Skjæran, Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy.

Facts about the Blue Justice Initiative

Norway launched the ‘Blue Justice Initiative’ in 2019. This venture is intended to help countries in their work against international fisheries crime. The initiative is overseen by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and is partnered with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

This partnership will take shape through an international ship tracking centre that was established in Vardø in 2021 and through a Norwegian-developed digital platform enabling secure state-to-state collaboration against fisheries crime administered by the UN via the 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.