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North Atlantic Seafood Forum

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Bergen, 6 March 2019.

Ladies and gentlemen,

First, let me thank the North Atlantic Seafood Forum for organising this conference. I am especially pleased that the conference is being held in my hometown – Bergen.

We live in uncertain times, and there is a lot we don’t know about the future. But one thing is certain:

The oceans will have a vital part to play.

Ocean industries are expected to create 40 million workplaces globally by 2030. And the ocean economy is expected to double in the same period.

The world’s growing population will need more food, medicines, energy, and minerals.

If managed wisely, the oceans hold the key to meeting these needs.

However, there are many challenges. Pollution, acidification and overfishing are all creating problems both within and outside national jurisdictions.

For all these reasons, Norway is deeply committed to the global ocean agenda and to the development of a sustainable ocean economy.

 

Norway has a long blue history.

Ocean-based activities are a large part of our economy.

The Norwegian Government has therefore launched an ambitious Ocean Strategy.

It covers key areas such as green technology, innovative use of marine resources, digitalisation, international diplomacy, and the fight against illegal fishing.

We intend to provide the best possible framework conditions for our ocean industries. We want to ensure responsible use of ocean resources, and to facilitate closer collaboration across sectors.

 

However, national actions are not enough.

We need global political will and a global to-do list.

Norway would like to contribute to this.

And with this in view, I have established an international High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

The Panel consists of serving heads of state and government who have joined forces to work towards sustainable use of the oceans.

It will highlight the relationship between healthy and clean oceans, sustainable use of ocean resources, economic growth, and development.

We need to increase global awareness of how responsible ocean management can help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Science for Ocean Action conference, which was held here in Bergen last November, provided important input to the Panel’s work.

Since then, a group of experts has continued to work on the scientific basis for the Panel’s recommendations.

We are also in the process of setting up an advisory network for the Panel, which will include the private sector and civil society organisations.

Proposals from the private sector and other relevant actors will be of great importance in the Panel’s work.

The Panel will present its report and recommendations at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in 2020.

 

In addition, Norway has taken the initiative to establish a multi-donor trust fund under the World Bank – called Problue – to improve waste management and prevent marine litter.

Pollution of the oceans by marine litter and microplastics is one of the fastest growing environmental concerns today.

Plastic is found in all layers of the ocean ecosystem, and in the most remote places on the planet.

The main focus of Problue is waste management systems in developing countries.

By providing financial incentives, it will make it attractive for governments and companies to invest in waste management.

In December 2017, the United Nations Environment Assembly took a bold step in adopting a vision of zero discharge of plastic litter into the oceans.

In response to this, Norway has proposed a new resolution, which will be discussed at the Fourth UN Environment Assembly next week.

Our aim is to strengthen global protection of our oceans from discharges of litter.

 

Today, more than two-thirds of Norway's export revenues come from ocean-based activities – fisheries, aquaculture, shipping and energy production.

Our use of the oceans is based on the principle of sustainability.

We have learned that it is fully possible to combine different ocean-based industries and at the same time maintain a healthy marine environment. But this depends on strong environmental standards being in place.

Key words in this context are technology and integrated marine management.

 

The Norwegian maritime industry has long been a pioneer when it comes to using new technology and adopting new, environmentally-friendly solutions.

An example is liquefied natural gas – LNG.

Norwegian industry has nearly 20 years’ experience of LNG.

As of October 2018, there were approximately 125 LNG-fuelled ships in the world. About 60 of them are registered under the Norwegian flag.

The use of battery-powered ferries is also increasing rapidly.

The world’s first fully battery-powered ferry has been operating in Norwegian waters since 2015.

Several other projects are underway. By 2022, there will be 70 battery-powered ferries in Norwegian waters – one third of the world’s total.

 

Our approach to managing living marine resources is based on scientific knowledge.

Our management of joint fish stocks is governed by bilateral and regional agreements.

The importance of science-based management can hardly be overestimated.

It is no coincidence that our most valuable fish stock – the Barents Sea cod – is in good shape.

This is due to methodical collection and analysis of key data year after year.

And quotas are set on the basis of scientific advice.

Making fisheries truly sustainable is almost like doing a jigsaw puzzle.

You need to get all the pieces in place.

For example, illegal fishing of Barents Sea cod was a problem in the years after 2000. Norway and Russia worked together to reduce the problem.

However, illegally caught fish still found its way into some EU ports.

Once this problem was acknowledged, steps were taken at regional level to control landings better.

Soon illegally caught fish was no longer accepted for landing in European ports.

This highlights the importance of cooperation across borders, and could serve as an example for global management of marine resources.

 

The Norwegian Government also attaches great importance to sustainable development in the aquaculture industry.

New concepts in this industry are under way. Partly as a result of the government scheme to promote the development of technology through special licences, called development licences.

We do not regulate in detail what kind of technologies the industry should use.

We do however set strict limits when it comes to the environmental impact of aquaculture activities.

I am confident that new technology can both increase profitability and promote environmentally sustainable development.

I look forward with great interest to seeing what the future brings in this area.

 

The future of our fisheries depends on more young men and women joining the industry.

In 2009, Norway therefor started a dedicated scheme to recruit more young men and women

The goal is to make it easier and more predictable for young people to start up as owners of fishing vessels. And they are given fair quotas.

Measures like these are crucial for ensuring long-term sustainable growth in the fisheries sector.

 

Marine resources will be crucial if we are to provide enough food and micronutrients for a growing world population.

Ensuring that people have access to safe and healthy food is fundamental for human development.

Over the next 30 years, the world’s population is expected to increase by two billion

Today, only 5% of global food consumption comes from the oceans. This share must increase if we are to reach our global goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty. We must use the oceans’ untapped potential to feed both today’s and future populations.

With this in view, Norway has taken three initiatives:

First,

As part of the UN Decade of Action for Nutrition, Norway has established an action network on aquatic food. 

The members of this network share lessons learned and seek to address challenges relating to the consumption of aquatic food, and to sustainable harvesting and production.

So far, experts from 60 countries and institutions have joined the network. The network will hold its third meeting here in Bergen in connection with this forum.

Second,

Norway is developing an action plan on sustainable food systems.

Fisheries and aquaculture will be included in the action plan.

And we aim to align the plan with the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Third,

There is a great demand for capacity- and competence-building and in the area of ocean management.

Norway wants to ensure that the lessons we have learned as we developed our own fisheries and aquaculture sectors can benefit other countries.

Under the Fish for Development Programme, Norway assists partner countries with:

  • resource management, legislation and efforts to combat fisheries-related crimes;
  • research and development, including the use of the Fridtjof Nansen research vessel; and,
  • private sector development.

In October, Norway will host the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo.

The nexus between climate change and the oceans will be one of the areas in focus.

The conference will highlight the importance of knowledge as the basis of our actions and policies to ensure sustainable growth in the future.

We will emphasise integrated management of the seas and coastal areas as the key to finding a balance between protection and sustainable use of the oceans.

The Our Ocean Conference will complement and reinforce other international efforts.

It will take place a month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presents its special report on climate change and the oceans.

We also aim to trigger, amplify and accelerate action in preparation for the UN Ocean Conference in 2020.

In addition, the conference will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

In the distant past, life emerged from the oceans.

The oceans are where we come from, and they hold the key to our future.

Thank you.

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