Solutions to an increased blue growth

Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for this opportunity to speak at this important conference!

As the norwegian Minister of Fisheries it has become very clear to me that:

Over the past 20 years, the FAO Code of Conduct has become a vital instrument towards achieving a responsible management of fisheries and aquaculture: at the national, regional and global level!

But I also know that we can do more to make fish part of the solution in our relentless work towards ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition worldwide.   

Clearly, blue growth contributions from coastal states, aquaculture producing nations and FAO will be key in fulfilling the UN 2030-agenda for Sustainable development.


But let's go to the basics: fish is food.

Our fish shouldn't be mismanaged, it shouldn't be wasted and it certainly shouldn't be left to be plundered by IUU-vessels.

But if we manage to harvest and produce fish responsibly, we have a food bowl for eternity.

Also, bear in mind that our marine areas are generally under-utilized: less than 5 per cent of global food production today derives from the sea. 

This tells me that there is a huge potential to increase the consumption of food from the sea.

Which I may add, is very much needed: the UN estimates that there will be all of 9,7 billion people on earth in 2050, and these people will no doubt need more food than we produce today.

Fish is indeed food, but why is it such an important food to us?

Fish is nutritious.

It is the major source of long-chain omega-3 fats, rich in vitamin D and selenium, high in protein, and low in saturated fat.

Eating fish is good for the heart, the blood vessels – and even for the brain!

So when we're told that 1 billion people worldwide is starving and 1 billion people is obese: remember that fish can be the remedy to both!

Fish is renewable resource that serves a purpose of feeding people and securing livelihoods.

Fish is the most important source of protein for people in developing countries, where you find in communities that depend entirely on fish as part of their daily diets.

In the developed world, however, we may tend to worry more about which foods are environmentally friendly, than we worry about food security.

So in this respect we may even need to educate the educated on the benefits of fish:

  • fish has a carbon footprint much lower than other animal production systems,
  • and fish farming is one of the most efficient ways of converting feed into high quality food

This is all good, but how but how do we actually bring more fish to the food tables of the world?

To this question, I have a threefold solution:

The first part of the solution is to implement better fisheries management

Good fisheries management is about continuously adapting to changing conditions. About balancing environmental, social and economic concerns.

In Norway, our approach has been clear: Living marine resources are renewable, but not limitless.

We have succeeded in translating precautionary approach into a practical management framework

Taking measures against illegal fishing is also part of good fisheries management

Illegal fishing is not only a threat to sustainability and the environment. It also provides basis for a black economy including tax and customs fraud, embezzlement, organized crime, human trafficking and corruption.

In this respect, the FAO agreement on port state measures and catch documentation schemes are important examples to follow:

  • by making IUU-fish less marketable, we make IUU-activity less desirable!

The second part of the solution is more aquaculture.

Increasing food production from the sea, without any shadow of doubt means developing more aquaculture.

FAOs work on aquaculture is important. It provides guidance and lets us learn from each-others failures and successes.

This is especially important when we seek to relinquish the potential of aquaculture in developing countries

The old wisdom is to teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

I would say: teach him and her also how to run a fish farm. And teach their country authorities how to regulate their aquaculture activity sustainably!

As an example, Norway has been involved in drawing up a new framework for fisheries and fish farming in Thang Loi, Vietnam. The results have been very good, with a dramatic drop of poverty in the region.

The third and final part of the solution is simply to waste less.

Sadly, almost one third of all the food produced globally is either lost or wasted. Action is needed, but there is no "one size fits all -approach"

In richer countries most of the food waste takes place at retailer and consumer level. While in poor countries, most of the food loss occurs in production, harvest, post-harvest and processing.

Discarding of fish is part of the challenge. Around 8 per cent of all catches of fish are discarded every year – mainly in industrialized countries. 

In Norway, a ban on discard of fish was established in 1987.

I also believe that the FAO guidelines on Bycatch Management and Reduction of Discards are valuable tools in the work towards a better utilization of our food resources.

I would of course encourage all countries to implement these guidelines.


Dear friends,

An African proverb says that "sticks in a bundle are unbreakable".

Certainly, we require a bundle of measures to increase the contribution of fish to the global food bowl:  we need more aquaculture, better management and less waste of the resources!

But if we all play our part together, our mission of sustainable blue growth will be very hard to break!

And lastly, congratulations to FAO on the 20th anniversary of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and aquaculture!

I believe The Code will have an increasingly important role to play in the future as we look ahead to the UN 2030-agenda for sustainable development!

Thank you very much for your attention!