Meld. St. 22 (2016–2017)

The place of the oceans in Norway’s foreign and development policy— Meld. St. 22 (2016–2017) Report to the Storting (white paper)

To table of content

Part 2
Overall international framework

4 Framework for Norway’s ocean interests

To promote its ocean interests, Norway is dependent on the existing international framework, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This is of crucial importance because it provides the world with a predictable legal system governing the rights and obligations of states with regard to use of the ocean and conservation of marine resources. The convention forestalls conflict and promotes predictability by clarifying which rights are applicable.

At the same time, the global community has a need to develop practical forms of cooperation and functional arenas for working together and solving challenges, whether these involve standardisation, management issues, combatting environmental threats or other matters. A number of international institutions have been created to address the various problem areas.

Norwegian ocean interests also have security and sovereignty dimensions. Security challenges at sea are complex, varying greatly from region to region. As the world’s population grows, so will the need for ocean resources.

We can expect an increase in ocean cargo and passenger traffic. The consistent exercise of authority in accordance with international law is a key to peaceful cooperation. Yet there are serious international security challenges at sea, such as piracy, environmental crime and the smuggling of weapons, drugs and human beings. While these problems have little connection to Norwegian marine areas, they do affect Norwegian ocean interests, whether indirectly or directly. It is also the case that destruction of the marine life support system in vulnerable coastal areas can exacerbate threats to stability and peace, with possible consequences for Norway.

4.1 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – the ‘constitution of the oceans’

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides the international framework for all activities at sea. It amounts to a common set of rules, providing predictability and stability. It is therefore a core Norwegian interest to help strengthen and further develop the Law of the Sea. Clear rules and stable framework conditions are necessary for peaceful cooperation between countries, economic development and business activity, and sustainable environmental management.

The law of the sea has been developed over centuries to reconcile the interests of all countries, both in neighbouring areas and in more distant seas. Security and resource utilisation are of special importance in a country’s neighbouring areas, while shipping and harvesting are important in distant oceans as well. Previously, states exercised sovereignty in the waters closest to their coastlines more or less as they did on land. Further out the freedom of the high seas applied, and all states had equal rights to harvest living marine resources and engage in maritime transport. After World War II a number of states wanted greater control over their own resources, leading to among other things the UN’s first Law of the Sea conference, in 1958. It resulted in four conventions concerning, respectively, territorial waters, the continental shelf, the high seas and fishing. This led to a new conference, and ultimately to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982. The convention established a historic compromise between coastal state interests and the freedom of the seas by giving the coastal states rights to the resources on their own continental shelf and in zones extending 200 nautical miles offshore, while entitling other states to free passage in the same areas.

The Law of the Sea provides a framework for national rights, freedom of action and duties at sea. The Convention on the Law of the Sea has been ratified by 168 parties, but enjoys almost universal support due to its balancing of diverse concerns, interests, rights and duties. For no country does the convention provide full acknowledgement of individual national interests, but the vast majority of countries see the convention, and the balancing of interests it stands for, as serving their interests overall.

The convention largely reflects customary international law as it has evolved from its emphasis on freedom of the seas to a greater focus on coastal state administration. The broad support it enjoys has also had the effect of quickly conferring customary international law status on new legal concepts introduced as a consequence of the convention’s adoption, such as the right of coastal states to institute economic zones.

4.1.1 Coastal states and the ocean

The Convention on the Law of the Sea clarifies which states own which resources and which usage rights they have in different geographical areas. It gives the coastal states special rights and duties. The Convention on the Law of the Sea divides the ocean into maritime zones. Territorial waters are those closest to the coast.

4.1.1.1 Territorial waters: internal waters and territorial sea

In the territorial waters, the coastal state has full sovereignty and essentially the same authority as on land. Territorial waters consist of internal waters and territorial sea. The internal waters are made up of fjords, bays and small marine areas inside the baseline.1 Baselines form the outer boundary of internal waters and are the starting point for calculating the territorial sea and outer jurisdictional areas.

In internal waters the coastal state has full sovereignty; other states may engage in activity there only to the extent that the coastal state accepts or permits it. An example of such activity is the arrival of foreign ships at Norwegian ports. Likewise in the territorial sea, extending 12 nautical miles2 from the baseline, the coastal state enjoys full sovereignty, except that foreign ships are entitled to innocent passage. In the contiguous zone extending 12 nautical miles seaward from the outer limit of the territorial sea, coastal states no longer have full sovereignty, but are permitted to inspect foreign ships suspected of violating the coastal state’s customs, health or immigration regulations.

4.1.1.2 Economic zone

In the exclusive economic zone, which extends to 200 nautical miles from the baseline, the coastal state has sovereign rights to make use of all resources and ensure they are not overexploited. In this way the fishing interests of coastal states are well protected under the Law of the Sea. Economic zone rights also include the authority to implement measures for marine environmental protection and conservation. These rights are combined and balanced with freedom of the seas, which entitles other states to free passage. For example, Norway may decline to allow other states to fish in Norway’s economic zone, but as a general rule it may not impose ship traffic restrictions beyond those adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UN agency.

4.1.1.3 Continental shelf

The continental shelf is the extension of land masses into the sea. Coastal states are automatically assumed to have a continental shelf extending 200 nautical miles from the baseline if not curtailed by another country’s continental shelf. The continental shelf of many coastal states reach beyond 200 nautical miles. In such cases the coastal state must document the extent of the shelf to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS)3 in New York. The commission issues recommendations which then entitle the coastal state to establish the outer limits of its continental shelf on the basis of the recommendation.

Under the Law of the Sea, all coastal states have sovereign rights to natural resources on the continental shelf. They are thus entitled to explore for and extract minerals and other resources present on and in the subsoil, including sedentary species such as the snow crab. In this context the implication of a coastal state’s sovereign rights is that no one can explore or extract such natural resources without the express consent of the coastal state.

The seabed area beyond national continental shelves is called the Area. There, all states have equal rights to activity and exploitation. The Area and the mineral resources there are defined as the common heritage of mankind and are managed by the International Seabed Authority, located in Jamaica.4

4.1.1.4 The high seas, international waters

On the high seas – that is, areas outside national jurisdiction – all states have the freedom to engage in such activities as shipping, research and fishing. No state may place any part of the high seas under its jurisdiction, but all states may allow their citizens and vessels to engage in activities there pursuant to national laws and regulations. For example, allowing Norwegian fishing vessels to fish on the high seas and prosecuting them criminally if there is reason to do so are matters for Norway to decide.

On the high seas, states are obliged to cooperate on such issues as fisheries resource management and marine environmental protection. Norway fulfils its duty to cooperate by working in the IMO and regional organisations.

Where a continental shelf extends beyond 200 nautical miles, the outer shelf area is in international waters. This is the case in the central Arctic Ocean, where virtually all of the seabed may prove to be national continental shelf. There, as usual, the coastal state has sovereign rights to exploit the shelf’s natural resources, while the water column above is governed by rules linked to the freedom of the high seas. This creates a number of problematic issues that require balancing the coastal state’s rights to sustainably exploit its continental shelf resources against the rights of other states to exercise the freedom of the seas.

Figure 4.1 Illustration showing the maritime jurisdictional areas of coastal states.

Figure 4.1 Illustration showing the maritime jurisdictional areas of coastal states.

4.1.2 Duty to protect, right to use

The Convention on the Law of the Sea combines the right to use the ocean and exploit its resources with a duty to protect the marine environment. Such use must be sustainable. That is, the use of marine resources shall serve the needs of today’s generation without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This principle, as expressed in the law, applies to each use in isolation but logically must also apply to the sum of all uses. Marine management must therefore take into account the entirety of a situation. Different uses, different pressures and different species, habitats and ecosystems must be viewed in context.

The integrated management plans for Norwegian marine areas have been established so that different activities can be considered in relation to each other in context. Internationally, Norway advocates such an integrated approach in key forums the United Nations, the Arctic Council and in its bilateral cooperation with Russia.

4.1.3 Regional application of the Law of the Sea

While management of national zones and continental shelves under the Law of the Sea is the responsibility of coastal states, their right to use and exploit resources outside national jurisdiction is combined with a duty to cooperate on management. Such cooperation may be carried out in different configurations and at different levels. The shipping industry is distinctly global, and is managed appropriately in the IMO. The same can be said for mining activities in areas outside national jurisdiction, which are managed by the International Seabed Authority.

In the case of fisheries, regional conditions and special characteristics have more prominence. The Convention on the Law of the Sea and the UN Straddling Fish Stocks Agreement5 emphasise bilateral and regional schemes for the management of fisheries in international waters.

The UN Straddling Fish Stocks Agreement came into force in 2001. It provides detailed global rules for fisheries management outside economic zones. It also contains resource management principles, such as the precautionary approach. The agreement has lead to the creation of new regional fisheries organisations, including outside southern Africa. It has also brought about revitalisation and modernisation of existing organisations. In our region, two important forms of cooperation are exemplified by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission. 6

Suitable management of the marine environment requires local experience and knowledge. It is important to work together through regional cooperation mechanisms such as the UN Environment Programme’s Regional Seas Programme, the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, and the Arctic Council. For fisheries and environmental management in Antarctic waters, the most important cooperation mechanism is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR).

In Norway’s view, the region’s coastal states, by virtue of their knowledge and long-term utilisation of nearby waters, are particularly well suited to cooperating on and selecting measures for effective natural resource management and ecosystem protection. In accordance with the Law of the Sea Norway will therefore continue to work for regional organisations and mechanisms to be the first-line option in marine resource management and protection.

4.1.4 Law of the Sea and Norway’s neighbouring areas

In order to have predictability and stability, international law and associated legal rules must be respected by all states. In Norway’s general vicinity there are good examples of ways countries cooperate to comply with the Law of the Sea.

4.1.4.1 Ilulissat Declaration

In 2008 the five coastal states of the central Arctic Ocean – Norway, Russia, the United States, Canada and Denmark/Greenland – signed the Ilulissat Declaration. The countries declared the Law of the Sea to be the legal framework for future Arctic cooperation and affirmed they had a special responsibility for sustainable management of marine areas. They also committed to developing management schemes for the Arctic consistent with the Law of the Sea and to resolving any disagreement about overlapping demands in an orderly manner, in accordance with the Law of the Sea.

4.1.4.2 Central Arctic Ocean declaration

In 2015, the same coastal states signed a declaration on preventing unregulated high seas fishing in the central Arctic Ocean. The declaration was prompted by a sharp reduction of ice cover in recent years. The changing ice conditions have raised the question of whether fish stocks in the marginal Arctic seas, such as the Barents and the Bering, might migrate into the central Arctic Ocean basin and provide a basis for fishing there. The declaration concerning the central Arctic Ocean gave an important boost to the precautionary approach in Arctic research and management while strengthening the global effort to limit unregulated fishing.

Pursuant to the declaration coastal states will not allow their vessels to fish in the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean unless a management regime has been established.7 The coastal states say in the declaration that commercial fishing in the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean is not likely to occur in the near future. However, the precautionary approach calls for the implementation of interim measures to deter unregulated fishing in future. Attempts are now under way to extend and strengthen the measures outlined in the declaration in negotiations for a new agreement that will also include countries and organisations such as the EU, Iceland, Japan, China and South Korea that are engaged in high seas fishing.

4.1.4.3 Arctic sea areas

The economic zone covers the area between 12 and 200 nautical miles outside the baseline. Where there is less than 400 nautical miles to another state’s baseline, the zone is bounded by a delimitation line agreed between the states. Norway has established three zones extending 200 nautical miles. An economic zone around the Norwegian mainland was created with effect from 1 January 1977.

Around Svalbard, Norway has established a fisheries protection zone that entered into force on 15 June 1977. The zone is bounded by Norway’s economic zone and agreed delimitation lines between the zone and the economic zones of Greenland and Russia. The primary purpose of establishing the fisheries protection zone was to gain control of, and limit, fishing in the area in order to conserve the resources and avoid an unregulated fishing situation. To achieve this purpose it was deemed sufficient to regulate fisheries using non-discriminatory provisions for Norwegian and foreign fishing vessels.

Norway established a fisheries zone around Jan Mayen with effect from 29 May 1980. The delimited zone borders the waters of Greenland and Iceland. The fisheries zone provides full management authority over fishing pursuant to the Law of the Sea.

All coastal states around the central Arctic Ocean follow the rules of the Convention on the Law of the Sea in determining the extent of their continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles. In 2006 Norway submitted documentation on the extent of the Norwegian continental shelf in the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the central Arctic Ocean. The CLCS’s 2009 recommendation was by and large in line with the Norwegian submission. It is believed that the other four coastal states of the central Arctic Ocean also have continental shelves extending beyond 200 nautical miles. Denmark submitted documentation for the Greenlandic shelf in the central Arctic Ocean in 2014 while Russia supplemented its original 2001 submission with extensive additional information in 2015. In 2013 Canada provided documentation for some areas and announced that it would come back later with information on the Canadian continental shelf in the central Arctic Ocean. The United States is not a party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, but is preparing documentation on the extent of its continental shelf. Virtually the entire seabed of the central Arctic Ocean may prove to be composed of national continental shelf, leaving perhaps only a very small international seabed area there.

Where zones and continental shelves overlap, states must negotiate maritime delimitation agreements. For Norway’s petroleum industry it was important to have clear continental shelf delimitation agreements with Britain and Denmark as far back as 1965. Norway has since entered into agreements with Iceland on the areas around Jan Mayen, with Denmark on the areas between Greenland and Jan Mayen (following a judgment in the International Court of Justice in The Hague) and with the United Kingdom on maritime delimitation towards the Faroe Islands. After extensive negotiations, Norway and Russia signed an agreement on 15 September 2010 that fixed the maritime delimitation between the two states’ zones and continental shelves in the Barents Sea and the central Arctic Ocean.

In September 2006, Norway, Iceland and Denmark signed a negotiation protocol on the procedure for delimiting the continental shelf in the southern part of the ‘Banana Hole’, a high seas area in the Norwegian Sea. Since then the CLCS has made recommendations on the delineation of the three states’ continental shelf areas there. Final negotiations between the three countries have begun on maritime delimitation and other matters.

Documentation on the extent of the Norwegian shelf off Bouvetøya in the South Atlantic was submitted to the CLCS in 2009. The commission is presently processing the submission. At the time of its Bouvetøya submission, Norway also provided documentation for the continental shelf off Dronning Maud Land. In light of Article IV of the Antarctic Treaty and considerations related to Antarctic cooperation, Norway asked the commission not to process for this part of the submission for the time being.

4.1.5 Court for dispute resolution

The International Court of Justice in The Hague has played an important role in resolving maritime legal disputes between states, and in the course of it extensive practice it has helped clarify the legal status and develop important aspects of the Law of the Sea. Among its contributions, the court has adjudicated a number of maritime delimitation cases between states. Norway has been a party in two cases before the court in The Hague, both involving Law of the Sea matters. The first was the so-called Fisheries Case between Norway and the United Kingdom, in 1951; the second, involving Norway and Denmark, concerned maritime delimitation between Greenland and Jan Mayen. Judgment was issued in 1993.

The Convention on the Law of the Sea also established the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), in Hamburg, as a mechanism for resolving disputes over the convention’s interpretation or application. It is part of a set of alternative dispute-resolution mechanisms that states can choose from. The Convention on the Law of the Sea also allows parties to choose arbitration or a special arbitration tribunal as a dispute-settlement mechanism.

4.1.6 Future demands on international marine management

Given environmental challenges, climate change, increased activity and greater pressure on the oceans of the world, more will be demanded from international cooperation if we are to use the oceans sustainably and protect them in the future. The Convention on the Law of the Sea’s rules on environmental management and exploiting marine genetic resources in areas outside national jurisdiction are general in nature, providing little detail in comparison with the detailed fisheries management regulations contained in the UN Straddling Fish Stocks Agreement.

The emergence of the Law of the Sea shows the ability of the international community to develop suitable regulations as needs arise. Ongoing efforts in the UN to craft a new biological diversity agreement to apply outside areas of national jurisdiction are an example of how the Law of the Sea is being developed to regulate in response to new needs. In 2015 the UN General Assembly appointed a committee to prepare elements of a new agreement on biodiversity in marine areas outside national jurisdiction by the end of 2017.8 The agreement will then be finalised in negotiations during a special conference. The agreement will deal with some of the key issues addressed in the Convention on Biological Diversity, such as regulation of access to marine genetic resources, sharing the benefits of their use, impact assessments, use of area-based management measures like marine protection areas, capacity building and technology transfer. The world community thus has an opportunity to develop a new agreement promoting integrated, science-based marine management systems and strengthening the international legal framework for the protection and sustainable use of international marine areas. Norway will contribute actively to making this happen.

For Norway it is important that any new agreement respect the rules and principles of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and be incorporated into the established Law of the Sea framework so as not to undermine existing agreements and bodies. That means the agreement must stipulate global rules to be implemented primarily through regional environmental management mechanisms in cooperation with regional fisheries management organisations, the IMO, the International Seabed Authority and other relevant bodies. Such an approach is practical and effective, inasmuch as the existing regional and sectoral structures already possess the necessary knowledge, experience and tools.

A new agreement must retain the focus on balancing marine environmental conservation with sustainable use of marine resources. It must ensure that area-based conservation measures are designed to fulfil their purpose as effectively as possible while facilitating sustainable use when this is compatible with the conservation goal. It is also important to respect the rights and special status of coastal states, especially with regard to international marine areas located above national continental shelves beyond the 200-nautical-mile point.

4.2 International ocean cooperation

International organisations and cooperation mechanisms have been established to regulate activities at sea. Important work is being done at the global level, for example in UN forums. Over time, a number of organisations and cooperative methods have emerged with specific mandates within their areas of responsibility.

Norway is active in global, regional and bilateral forums concerned with international ocean governance and management. Norway is also party to a number of international agreements with relevance to oceans and the marine environment.

4.2.1 Need for cooperation on marine issues

A characteristic of many problems in important fields, like the environment – where plastic waste, long-range transport of pollutants, climate change and ocean acidification are major concerns – is that one nation alone cannot solve them. Ocean currents and winds can carry pollution and waste far from their place of origin. Negative impacts of human activity at one place can affect ecosystems and humans elsewhere. Emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases affect climate around the globe, regardless of where they are released. To solve problems we need good cooperation mechanisms at both global and regional levels.

Textbox 4.1 Sea of hope. Marine genetic resources and work towards a new agreement on biodiversity outside national jurisdiction

Genetic material from living organisms provides us with important medicinal active ingredients. A search for genetic material, for example, led us to cyclosporine, which was found in a fungus on the Hardangervidda plateau in 1969 by a representative of a foreign pharmaceutical company. This fungus, it was discovered, had an immunosuppressive effect, and a drug was developed, cyclosporine, which keeps transplanted organs from being rejected. Lack of regulation in the area resulted in proceeds from the sale of this drug going to the pharmaceutical company instead of to society as a whole.

Most active ingredients in medicines come from land-based life. Organisms at sea are catalogued to a much lesser extent than those on land. Researchers at the University of Tromsø have found that sea urchin ‘blood’ contains bactericidal substances. Extensive use of antibiotics has caused a variety of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms to evolve. The world therefore depends on the continual development of new drugs. It may turn out that part of the solution is in the ocean. In addition to their use in producing medicines, genetic resources can be used to develop cosmetics and ingredients for foodstuffs and animal feed. In Norway, the Sea Resources Act regulates access to marine genetic material. The Nature Diversity Act regulates the extraction and utilisation of genetic material in Norway as well as the import and use of genetic resources from other countries. Norwegian legislation on genetic material is important globally because it includes provisions bolstering legislation in countries that are genetic resource suppliers. Anyone who obtains genetic material in another country must document, when it is imported into or used in Norway, that it was acquired in accordance with the rules of the country in question. Genetic resources from areas beyond national jurisdiction have the potential of being sources of important products, such as new medicines, that the world will need in the years to come. For Norway it is important that the new agreement on biological diversity outside national jurisdiction allows marine genetic resources to be explored and exploited for purposes of innovation and value creation while ensuring that the benefits from such exploitation are shared with developing countries – for example, through access to tests and research data and participation by developing countries in research missions, research projects and commercial product development.

Many living sea organisms migrate over long distances. For a variety of fish species, seabirds and marine mammals, such behaviour is part of the natural lifecycle. For countries intending to collaborate on resource management, however, it can be a major challenge. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) points out that climate change may lead to significant shifts in the ranges of marine species, possibly causing existing management challenges to grow more complicated.

A further challenge is the monitoring and control of undesirable activity. Illegal fishing in international waters is an example of an activity that is hard to stamp out. Efforts by individual countries are often insufficient.

Although existing institutions generally work well, it is important to consider whether the current system of ocean governance and management is well suited to the challenges. Moreover, the challenges we face will change over time. Although different marine activities are often interrelated and exert influence on one other, they are presently regulated largely by sector. Coordination between international bodies is often somewhat ad hoc. Strengthened coordination and cooperation may result in better tools to handle shared challenges, making it easier to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14.

4.2.2 Key Institutions

Institutions focused on different ocean-related issues have been created as the need for international cooperation has materialised. The Convention on the Law of the Sea imposes on states a general duty to cooperate on resource protection and use and biological diversity. A brief presentation follows on the most important organisations and other important actors and venues through which Norway operates. Many of these will also be mentioned in subsequent chapters.

4.2.2.1 UN and the General Assembly

The UN is the most important forum for developing international norms, and to a large extent it determines the overall framework for ocean-based activities. Several important conventions relevant to the ocean and marine issues have been adopted in connection with the UN and UN institutions, including in particular the General Assembly. The UN is also the arena for approving important declarations and setting forth large-scale policy goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals of 2015. To advance Norwegian ocean interests it is important to maintain a clear presence in ocean-related arenas, and Norway is an active participant in key UN processes.

The UN plays a central role in the international Law of the Sea regime. Within the General Assembly framework binding rules are developed and negotiated in the form of new instruments, such as conventions, and non-binding rules, such as resolutions. Examples of the latter are annual fisheries and Law of the Sea resolutions, which are of great importance to Norway. Norway is actively involved in General Assembly debates and in the preceding informal negotiations, where the Norwegian delegations consist of representatives from the involved ministries.

4.2.2.2 Other UN bodies

Several specialised UN bodies have a normative function, with tasks related to monitoring, environmental protection, management, information gathering and other topics.

In fisheries and aquaculture a key role is played by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO focuses on global food security and is an important arena in the forging of international conventions, such as the Port State Measures Agreement, and norms and guidelines related to fisheries and aquaculture. The work done in FAO to strengthen sustainable global management of fisheries resources is important for Norwegian ocean interests. Norway has had a long and close partnership with the organisation.

The Committee on World Food Security is the central UN political platform on food security and nutrition. The committee serves as an intergovernmental forum within the UN system to review and follow up world food security guidelines. It has an independent expert panel that publishes reports containing scientific analysis and advice.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UN Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is the UN body for ocean science, ocean observation, ocean information and data exchange and the development of services such as tsunami warning systems. The commission strengthens international cooperation and coordinates programmes on research, services and knowledge-exchange relating to marine and coastal areas and resources; it also provides support for management, sustainable development, marine environmental protection and decision-making processes in member countries.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the specialised UN body for regulating shipping. The main purpose is to promote maritime safety and environmental protection. The organisation issues global requirements for ships, ship operations and crews, including ship design and equipment, navigation, communications, seafarer competence and emissions to sea and air. The IMO also facilitates trade and works to prevent piracy and terrorist activities at sea and in port.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is the UN’s leading body on environmental matters. In recent years, marine environmental issues have been gaining attention. UNEP’s mandate includes assessing and monitoring the state of the world’s environment, highlighting environmental challenges that require global attention, developing environmental agreements and conventions, and contributing to member state knowledge and expertise regarding environmental management and sustainable development. The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the programme’s highest body and adopts resolutions to be pursued by UNEP and the member states. The third assembly will take place in December 2017, focusing on pollution.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global network for development, with a broad thematic focus. Through its global ocean governance programme, UNDP is working in partnership with other international actors to ensure that developing countries benefit from marine resources in a sustainable way that facilitates the countries’ development goals.

The number of UN agencies working on marine issues in one form or another has created a need for some coordination of the various activities. This is being attempted through the UN Oceans inter-agency coordination mechanism.

4.2.2.3 Other multilateral and regional organisations

Norway provides financial support for and plays an active role in several other multilateral organisations whose mandates relate to ocean affairs, management and marine resources.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) supports measures to help improve the global environment. As a financing mechanism for the global environmental conventions, GEF is well positioned to view environmental problems in their entirety. In the realm of the oceans, seas and marine resources, GEF has financed the creation of cooperative regional ecosystem and fisheries management organisations in developing countries.

Textbox 4.2 UN resolutions can have major practical impact: UN measures against harmful bottom gear

Figure 4.2 UN General Assembly.

Figure 4.2 UN General Assembly.

Photo: Basil D. Soufi (Creative Commons license).

Implementation of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the UN Straddling Fish Stocks Agreement is closely monitored and followed up, including through two annual resolutions that are debated and adopted in the General Assembly. The resolutions express political consensus by the states on application of the Law of the Sea in specific matters of ocean management with regard to the environment, maritime security, fisheries, continental shelf issues etc. Consensus on measures to protect vulnerable seabed habitats from damage by certain types of fishing gear, such as bottom trawls, has been important to global marine management. Since 2004 the General Assembly has developed detailed provisions regarding area closure and fishing methods to prevent bottom fishing from damaging coral and other vulnerable seabed habitats. Norway was among the driving forces in designing the provisions, which were later implemented in regional fisheries management organisations such as the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission and in Norwegian regulations. Their implementation is regularly evaluated in special sessions where states, relevant organisations and civil society all take part. It is a good example of UN resolutions having major practical impact by leading to effective national and regional implementation of globally formulated objectives.

The World Bank provides development assistance, loans and professional expertise to developing countries and middle-income countries and is a key player in international development. The bank’s focus is wide, and includes support for marine resource management and coastal areas, sustainable fishing and aquaculture, protective measures, combatting marine pollution and information gathering.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the main global arena for issues having to do with whales. Part of the IWC’s mandate is to establish regulations ensuring conservation, development and optimal utilisation of whale resources on the basis of scientific data. In recent decades the commission has been dominated by conservation interests, with the result that it is not in fact fulfilling its mandate. The commission’s Scientific Committee, in which Norway plays an active role, has maintained an important role as a knowledge arena for whaling issues. On whaling issues Norway has consistently based its argumentation on scientific data and the principle of sustainable harvesting.

At regional level, a number of bodies with fisheries and marine environmental mandates have been established. Most important for Norway is the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), which for countries in this region is the central cooperation arena for fisheries issues, and the OSPAR Commission, which is the key forum in the region for marine environmental management and pollution protection cooperation.

The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) manages fisheries resources in the western Atlantic Ocean. Norway is one of the organisation’s 12 member countries and has quota rights to some species in delineated areas. Norway also participates in the SEAFO regional fisheries management organisation in the South-East Atlantic.

Norway is a member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which manages a number of tuna and tuna-like species, including the Atlantic bluefin tuna, an important commercial species internationally for which Norway has a quota. Improved management within the ICCAT framework has returned this species to a level where it can also be fished in Norwegian waters.

In the Arctic, the Arctic Council plays a leading role in environmental monitoring, information gathering and conservation of the oceans, seas and marine ecosystems. The council is an important arena for Arctic environmental issues, increasingly including issues related to Arctic marine areas. On behalf of its members the council accumulates important knowledge on climate change, pollution and pressures and impacts on Arctic species and ecosystems. Ocean safety and security, oil pollution preparedness and response and search and rescue are other important topics. Norway is actively involved in this work.

With regard to the Antarctic, Norway cooperates with numerous other countries in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

A number of other regional cooperative organisations have the ocean as one of their priority topics, including the African Union (AU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Norway agreed to partner with both of those organisations in 2015. The Government will prioritise the blue economy in these partnerships. The Latin American trade block Pacific Alliance, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) are among other bodies with oceans, fisheries and maritime issues on their agendas.

4.2.2.4 The European Union and the sea

The EU is an important political and economic actor and a partner with Norway in many ocean-related areas. The majority of Norway’s maritime industry exports go to EU countries. The relationship between Norway and the EU is close and we cooperate at many levels – thematic, institutional and political. There are many areas of common interest, though there are also issues where Norway’s priorities and the EU’s priorities are not identical.

The EU’s importance to Norway is evident from the various types of legal provisions that become applicable in Norway through the EEA Agreement. Some of these are relevant to ocean affairs, including shipping-related requirements and environmental regulations. Food safety regulations and the veterinary aspects of fishing and aquaculture are also subject to the EEA Agreement. Aquaculture policy and fisheries resource management, however, are not part of it. Trade in fish and fish products is regulated by a separate protocol in the EEA Agreement and by bilateral agreements. Norway does not enjoy free market access for fish and fish products to the EU. Market access issues are discussed in more detail in Part III.

Other maritime regulations that fall outside the scope of the EEA Agreement include the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations Directive, both of which apply by and large to marine areas between national baselines and the outer limits of national jurisdiction.

Through the EEA Grants, Norway contributes to social and economic equalisation for the EU’s least prosperous countries. This support also strengthens cooperation between Norway and the recipient countries. Some of the funds are channelled to projects and institutional cooperation related to oceans, seas and marine resources, including the environment and knowledge acquisition and partly within the EU marine strategy framework and the EU Water Framework Directive. In May 2016, a new EEA Grants agreement was signed with the EU for the 2014–2021 period.

Norway participates in EU research efforts, and there is broad-based research and innovation cooperation with the EU on issues relating to the oceans, seas and marine resources. Many Norwegian research clusters work closely with partner institutions in EU countries, and the union’s programmes are an important funding source for Norwegian marine research. Norway is a member of Copernicus, the large European satellite-based earth observation and public security programme. Norway participates in the Horizon 2020 framework programme and is actively working to influence its design to give ocean-based issues a prominent position. JPI Oceans is a long-term coordinating and integrating platform involving 21 member countries and covering all the sea basins of Europe, supplementing efforts pursued through the EU and Horizon 2020. Norway heads the Brussels-based secretariat, which works among other things to expand the common European effort to combat ocean pollution, including the problem of plastics and microplastics (see Box).

4.2.2.4.1 Key EU priorities on oceans, seas and marine resources

The ocean sector is thought to have great potential to spur growth and innovation in European countries. In 2012, the EU presented its first blue growth strategy with the aim of supporting sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors. In 2014, the strategy was augmented to better release the potential for innovation.

As a share of the EU’s economy, the seafood sector is modest, but regionally it is of great importance. Overfishing has been a long-standing problem. A reform package adopted in 2014 provided the EU with new policy instruments intended to make fisheries management more sustainable. The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy outlines the union’s priorities in international fisheries negotiations, and thus affects Norway. It is uncertain how the UK’s exit from the EU will affect the union’s priorities in fisheries negotiations to which Norway is a party.

Textbox 4.3 JPI Oceans

Norway plays an active role in the Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans), a European research collaboration whose goal is to contribute to ocean health and productivity. This is done by developing shared strategies to facilitate sustainable growth and better coordinating the research funding that is channelled through various countries to marine and maritime research.

JPI Oceans has defined 10 strategic areas and three crossover issues related to policy development, expertise and infrastructure. Through JPI Oceans, several joint projects have been initiated, including for the purpose of standardising measurement systems and mapping the ecological effects of microplastics, seabed mining and dumped munitions. There are also projects for more efficient use of infrastructure, marine observations and marine technologies, in cooperation with the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework programme.

JPI Oceans has established cooperation with two other JPIs, whose focuses are food security and health, so seafood can be included in the research and policy development on food security and nutrition. The central mission of JPI Oceans is to strengthen knowledge and policy development in order to better integrate and coordinate ocean management. Its emphasis is therefore to increase knowledge exchange, the development of common standards and observation systems, and cooperation on infrastructure.

EU aquaculture production has developed modestly since 2000. The ambition is to encourage growth in the sector in the years to come through reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy and work with strategic guidelines.

Norway and the EU have many common interests in marine issues. In November 2016, the European Commission presented a broad initiative on ocean-related governance and management.9 The initiative, which addresses both European and global issues, points to a potential for improvement in the international institutional framework, the importance of the environment and sustainable marine management, and the need for more knowledge and data about the oceans. Actions were proposed with regard to improving maritime security; combatting illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; protecting marine ecosystems; reducing marine litter, including plastics and microplastics; and investing in marine research and innovation.

The EU has presented an action plan on circular economy and announced that new legislation is expected in the second half of 2017. An important objective for new marine environmental legislation will be to divert waste away from dumping sites and thereby reduce the amount that ends up as marine litter.

The EU has agreed to host the annual international Our Ocean conference in Malta in October 2017. It is yet another expression of the union’s ambition to play an active role in global maritime issues. The EU and its member countries participate in a number of other international marine-related arenas of significance for Norway, including the UN General Assembly, the UN Environment Programme, the Arctic Council, the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission and the OSPAR Commission. The Government attaches great importance to close and constructive cooperation with the EU on marine issues and wishes to develop this cooperation further.

4.3 Safe seas

The maritime dimension of security policy has gained importance in recent years. For Norway, it is crucial to pursue a security policy that safeguards our interests at sea. Elements include the Law of the Sea, enforcement of sovereignty, exercise of authority, freedom of movement and security, defence and alliance policy.

The Norwegian Armed Forces, through the Navy and Coast Guard, is the primary agent of authority in Norwegian areas of interest by virtue of its daily presence in key areas and its readiness to address security-threatening incidents and conflicts. The Navy participates in exercises and operations at home and abroad with allies. This helps ensure security at sea. Throughout the year, the Coast Guard is present to safeguard Norwegian interests, exercise authority on behalf of a number of agencies and carry out important tasks in cooperation with other countries.

Security challenges at sea are complex and vary considerably from region to region. As world population expands, the need for maritime transport and ocean resources will increase, giving rise to opportunities and challenges. Agreements on maritime delimitation and respect for the Law of the Sea are the keys to peaceful cooperation. Unsettled jurisdictional issues are potential sources of conflict.

Other security challenges at sea include piracy, smuggling of weapons and drugs, smuggling of human beings and environmental crime. Although in Norwegian marine areas such problems are limited in scale, they do affect Norwegian interests, whether directly or indirectly. Climate change may pose a security risk by impairing human livelihoods due to – for example – a rise in sea level or changes in the ranges of important fish stocks and other living resources.

4.3.1 The Arctic

Since the end of the Cold War, the interests of the Arctic states have by and large coincided in the north. Tensions have been low and cooperation successful. The five coastal states bordering the Arctic Ocean agree that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea provides the legal framework for activity in the Arctic Ocean. The agreement Norway and Russia signed in 2010 on maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the central Arctic Ocean exemplifies how settling jurisdictional issues is in the shared interest of the parties involved and can provide large benefits in a number of areas. Norway and Russia cooperate bilaterally on key Arctic issues such as search and rescue, oil pollution preparedness, nuclear safety, environmental protection, fisheries management and people-to-people relations. The Government wants to maintain contact and constructive cooperation on these issues. This will be mutually beneficial and will help to keep tensions low and provide predictability.

Conflicts elsewhere in the world have had little impact in the Arctic, but it cannot be ruled out that increased tension elsewhere in the world could have a spillover effect. Russian presence and training activity in the region have increased over time, especially in the maritime realm. Strategically and militarily, the region is very important to Russia, and Norway pays close attention to developments in the region.

Norway is a strong advocate within NATO for addressing the maritime dimension and maintaining good situational awareness in the High North. Norway contributes significantly to the alliance’s standing maritime capabilities, especially in northern Europe, and is a driving force in the modernisation of NATO’s maritime strategy. Getting member states to commit sufficient resources to standing maritime groups and maritime operations has been a challenge, but there is now agreement that member states will contribute more to the naval forces. It is very important that the standing maritime groups not become tied down in ongoing operations, but remain available for collective defence and crisis management. During the NATO Summit in Warsaw, in July 2016, it was agreed to continue strengthening the alliance’s maritime strategy and to continuously assess security in the marine areas that fall within the alliance’s scope of responsibility.

In recent years, NATO has been involved in a number of maritime operations, including terrorism preparedness in the Mediterranean, piracy suppression around the Horn of Africa and situational awareness in the southern Mediterranean.

4.3.2 Baltic Sea region

The importance of the Baltic Sea region to security policy has risen lately due to its strategic position in the frontier area with Russia. What is now considered the normal state of affairs in the region is tenser and more unpredictable than it was in the two previous decades.

The Nordic countries face common regional challenges, both in the north and in the Baltic Sea. Although Finland and Sweden are not NATO members, they would be very important in dealing with a potential security crisis in the region. It is therefore important that the Nordic countries remain in close dialogue over developments in the region. Norway is also well served by NATO exchanging information and cooperating closely with Finland and Sweden on developments in the Baltic area.

4.3.3 The European Union and maritime security

The EU’s maritime security strategy, dating from 2014, aims to ensure that marine areas are open to economic development, free trade, transport, energy production and tourism, and that good environmental status is maintained. Security challenges related to marine areas and maritime boundaries are to be addressed, it is emphasised, in accordance with the Law of the Sea.

Figure 4.3 KV Senja on a mission.

Figure 4.3 KV Senja on a mission.

Photo: Norwegian Coast Guard.

Maritime security, including the monitoring of marine areas important to EU member states, is another a key objective in the implementation of the EU’s new global security strategy.

Closer cooperation on maritime security is a key element of the July 2016 Joint Declaration of strategic partnership between the EU and NATO and of the Implementation Plan approved in December 2016 at EU and NATO ministerial meetings. There, both organisations committed to strengthening operational cooperation at sea, including with regard to migration. Close cooperation between NATO and the EU on maritime security is positive for Norway.

4.3.3.1 Migration by sea

The ocean is a widely used means of passage for cross-border migration. For several years, Europe has experienced an extraordinary influx of refugees and migrants. Most of these come across the Mediterranean Sea. Migration by sea is closely intertwined with human smuggling and is a serious challenge.

The human smuggling is linked to Europe’s asylum system. There are few channels for submitting an application for protection without having contact with human smugglers somewhere during the process. According to Europol, 90 % of the more than 1 million refugees and migrants who entered Europe in 2015 used smuggling services during all or part of the journey.

Maritime operations in the Mediterranean have been important in controlling the Schengen Area’s external borders, combatting the smuggling of human beings and managing refugee and migration flows.

In October 2016 an expanded mandate for the European Union’s external border protection agency, Frontex, entered into force. A European border and coast guard was thus established, with more numerous and more extensive tasks than before. The main purpose of the expanded mandate is to strengthen control over the external EU and Schengen Area borders. The member state authorities responsible for border control, including coast guard border control tasks, are included in the expanded mandate. National border authorities will continue to have the main responsibility for external border control.

A large portion of the external EU and Schengen borders are at sea. Frontex assists nation states with maritime border control. Since the summer of 2015, Norway has contributed two ships to Frontex’s border control and rescue activities in the Mediterranean: the vessel Siem Pilot, based in Italian territorial waters for Operation Triton, and the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue’s vessel Peter Henry von Koss, based in Greek territorial waters for Operation Poseidon. The Norwegian vessels help in securing improved control over the maritime boundaries of the EU and Schengen Area.

The EU’s naval force in the Mediterranean Sea, EU NAVFOR MED, has had its operating area expanded. The operation is now helping enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya, and it includes training the Libyan coast guard and navy with a view to halting weapons smuggling and human smuggling in Libyan waters.

4.3.4 Piracy

For Norway, as a shipping nation, security for all forms of maritime transport is important. Piracy is an obstacle to international trade and weakens Norwegian economic activity. It poses a danger to the life and health of seafarers. Piracy is also destabilising for the countries where criminal activity of this sort is based.

The areas most vulnerable to piracy today are the Gulf of Guinea off West Africa, the western Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. Growth in merchandise trade and the world’s increasing dependence on international trade amplify the consequences of piracy.

The fight against piracy ties up naval resources that increasingly are in demand for other missions. Some developing countries have little or no means of exercising authority in their marine areas. Lack of relevant legislation may be a further challenge. Reference is made to the anti-piracy measures specified in the white paper Global security challenges in Norway’s foreign policy (Meld. St. 37 (2014–2015)). The Government will continue its broad-based approach to combatting this problem.

4.3.5 Environmental crime and the sea

Environmental crime finances organised crime, which in some cases may fuel terrorism and armed conflict. Environmental crime also causes states to lose large amounts of tax revenue and access to natural resources, and may contribute to poverty. The sea is the main transport route for such crime. Environmental crime includes illegal trade in such goods as timber, minerals, cultural heritage articles and fish, as well as trade in and dumping of chemicals and hazardous waste. Interpol has asserted that illegal activities occur in conjunction with the trading of quotas such as fishing quotas, hunting quotas and climate quotas.

A major challenge in combatting environmental crime is lack of capacity and lack of information exchange between the police, Coast Guard and supervisory authorities. This reduces the ability to supervise and investigate the entire value chain. An important part of the value chain is enforcement at sea, where most of reloading onto transport vessels takes place for products like timber and illegal fish. If maritime enforcement is to be as cost-effective as possible, multiagency cooperation and sharing of information are important.

The Government is working to achieve an integrated approach in which environmental crime is viewed in the context of other forms of organised crime, since the same actors and the same transport routes and vessels are often involved in different types of crime. The Government is emphasising capacity building for prosecutors, courts, police and supervisory authorities. Norway provides funds to combat environmental crime through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Interpol and the UN Environment Programme.

The UN Environment Programme and the UN General Assembly are among the bodies that have adopted decisions on illegal trade of flora and fauna, including illegal sales of timber and endangered species. Norway is actively involved in work under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, and the Government is seeking to promote a broader approach to environmental crime that encompasses fisheries crime.

The measures specified in the white paper Global security challenges in Norway’s foreign policy (Meld. St. 37 (2014–2015)) guide Norway’s efforts to fight environmental crime. The white paper states that Norway is open to the development of new legally and politically binding instruments to counter new forms of serious cross-border organised crime.

4.3.6 Climate change, the sea and safety

Climate change has been on the security policy agenda for several years. Global warming leads to sea level rise, extreme weather, flooding, drought and heat waves. These undermine food security, economic progress and social stability in vulnerable areas, especially in tropical and subtropical zones.

The effects of climate change on the oceans may exacerbate regional and global security challenges, with possible major implications for Norway and Norwegian interests. The most obvious example is sea level rise, which in the long term, and in combination with more extreme weather and more frequent storm surges, poses a serious threat to many densely populated low-lying coastal areas where many of the world’s largest cities and most important agricultural areas are located. But shifts in the ranges of important fish stocks and diminished catch potential at low latitudes – possibly compromising food security – could aggravate the security situation in vulnerable countries and regions, with possible consequences for Europe and Norway.

Particularly vulnerable, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is Southeast Asia, including small island states. But parts of Africa, North America and Australia could also be hard hit. The panel’s most recent report highlights the risk that a rising sea level, storm surges and flooding represents for life, health and livelihoods in low-lying coastal areas and small island states. The same applies to diminished catch potential and destruction of coral reefs in tropical areas, partly due to ocean acidification.

Sea level rise in the large and densely populated deltas of Asia and Africa could trigger waves of migration and intensify conflicts, possibly with serious security implications. One example is Bangladesh, where by 2025, according to the country’s own scientists, 17 % of land area may be flooded. In addition to more frequent floods, such areas also face increasing levels of erosion and saltwater intrusion into rivers and groundwater.

Vulnerable states under pressure from resource shortages, population growth, poverty and, in many cases, poor governance, are also those most affected by climate change. The threat increases with the degree of climate change, but can be limited through climate adaptation and measures that mitigate the damage from climate change and strengthen the ability of countries and communities to handle the change.

Footnotes

1.

Norway’s internal waters are all the waters within its baselines as drawn in accordance with Part II of the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Baselines are the starting point for the mapping of zones and shelves. See also the Act of 27 June 2003 relating to Norway’s territorial waters and contiguous zone.

2.

1 nautical mile = 1.852 km.

3.

The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) meets at UN Headquarters in New York.

4.

The Agreement of 28 July 1994 on the implementation of Part XI of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 provides special rules on implementing rules for the Area. The agreement became binding on Norway on 24 July 1996; see Proposition No. 37 (1995–1996) to the Storting.

5.

Agreement of 4 December 1995 on implementing provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 on the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. It came into force for Norway on 11 December 2001; see Proposition No. 43 (1995–1996) to the Storting.

6.

The Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission was established pursuant to an agreement, dated 11 April 1975, on fisheries industry cooperation between Norway and the Soviet Union. The agreement has been continued with Russia.

7.

As early as 2007, Norway introduced a general ban on Norwegian-flag vessels fishing in areas where no management regime exists.

8.

Resolution 69/292 adopted in the UN General Assembly on 19 June 2015.

9.

Joint Communication on ‘International ocean governance: An Agenda for the future of the ocean’, issued 10 November 2016.

Go to front page