Historical archive

Statement at Conference on Maritime Security

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

State Secretary Marianne Hagen's statement at a ministerial conference on maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean.

Firstly, I would like to thank Mauritius and the Indian Ocean Commission for inviting Norway to this important ministerial conference on maritime security.

Free navigation and safe passage on the seas are fundamental principles that must not be compromised, as we recently witnessed in the Gulf region.

As such, we all share common interests in addressing the issues on today’s agenda.

The states in and around the Western Indian Ocean all depend on the ocean for their livelihoods, for transport and for security – and so does Norway.

The increase of Somali piracy ten years ago underlined the importance of the Western Indian Ocean for Norway as a shipping nation.

We have succeeded in curbing piracy in the Western Indian Ocean. The concerted efforts of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia resulted in a series of measures that were effective in combating piracy attacks.

However, as those present here today all know, piracy in the Western Indian Ocean has not yet been eradicated.  There are still a number of pirate leaders in Somalia with both the ability and the intention to seize ships.

Norway will continue to support the Contact Group. We place particular emphasis on maintaining our capacity to prosecute and imprison pirates here in the region, with Mauritius, the Seychelles and Kenya as important partners. We will also continue to support police efforts to arrest and prosecute the kingpins behind acts of piracy.

The criminals behind piracy also engage in other criminal activities at sea. Trafficking of humans, drugs, weapons and charcoal is a serious problem. Although the mandate of the Contact Group is limited to piracy, the links to other maritime crimes make it necessary to cooperate with UNODC and other bodies dealing with such crimes.

On fisheries

I would also like to make a few remarks about fisheries. Norway attaches great importance to the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Fisheries-related crime and transnational organised crime in the fishing industry distort competition, sustain corruption and harm the marine environment. 

Implementation of the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) is crucial for fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. We encourage all countries to endorse and implement this agreement.

In order to strengthen these efforts, Norway and eight other countries took the initiative in October 2018 for an international political declaration on transnational organised crime in the global fishing industry. We encourage other countries to support the declaration.

On climate change

As a maritime and an Arctic nation, Norway is witnessing the increasingly rapid and dramatic effects of climatic change first hand. The same is true of the Western Indian Ocean island states.

The negative effects of pollution and waste, combined with the rapid melting of the ice caps, are a serious threat to our oceans.

Norway remains firmly convinced that full and swift implementation of the Paris Agreement is of crucial importance for the welfare of the oceans ­– and thus for all of us.

To quote William Arthur Ward: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” So let us adjust them. Let us join efforts in tackling maritime security challenges, maritime trafficking, pollution, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and climate change.