Historical archive

Fighting fisheries crime

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries

Speech held in Copenhagen at the 4th International FishCrime symposium, October 15th.

Ministers, Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here with you – and to be in the UN City in Copenhagen, overlooking the beautiful coastal area of Copenhagen.

We are surrounded by water. Which is perfect for a conference like ours.


The ocean has always been a source of food, income and welfare for Norway.  As a nation, we care deeply about protecting the valuable marine resources.


Both nationally and internationally, fisheries are one of the most important industries we have. It will contribute to our need for food and jobs going forward. 


Therefore, we must conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.


Today, the fisheries sector is a multibillion-dollar business.


In 2016, the world traded fish to the value of 362 billion US dollars. More than half of which was from developing countries. This is according to the latest numbers from the UN FAO.


There are claims that as much as one fifth – 20 per cent – of the fish on the market today, is caught illegally.


The UN has outlined 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the future.


The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.


If we are to reach these goals by 2030, which is the target, we must manage our oceans and fisheries resources wisely.


As a large ocean nation, Norway wants to help build a sustainable blue economy.

It is crucial to our future development. Goal number 14 on "life below water" clearly lays out the importance of our ocean resources.


That is why our Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, launched a High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy last year.


It is an initiative by heads of governments committed to catalyzing bold, pragmatic solutions for the Ocean.


The Ocean Panel brings together world leaders recognizing that – if we are to “produce, protect and prosper” – economic production and Ocean conservation must be mutually supportive.


The supply of marine resources is not infinite.

Illegal fishing provides a significant source of profit for criminals.


By distorting and undercutting legitimate commerce, it can cause economic and social disruption.


Governments impacted by illegal fisheries are deprived of direct and indirect sales as well as tax revenues on import and export goods.


Goods, which would normally be state-controlled marine resources.


Furthermore, the high level of corruption underpinning this illegal activity, poses a serious threat to national governance.


This symposium has become an important forum for discussion and cooperation on ocean and fisheries management.


In 2015, experts at the first International Symposium on Fisheries Crime established the linkages between illegal fishing and transnational organised crime.


The year after, the 2016 FishCrime symposium identified the need to use a whole of government approach to address fisheries crime through a ‘full range of the law’ strategy.


Last year, in 2017, the symposium focused on policies to address fisheries crime.


Now, the aim of this year’s FishCrime Symposium is to shift the focus from sea to land, and address fisheries crime as economic crime.


In relations to this, I also want to draw your attention to another important event that took place last year.

Namely the publishing of the report "Chasing Red Herrings" – by The North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence Group.


The report has studied the impacts of secrecy in the fisheries sector as well as flags of convenience.  It also shows how this effects the global effort to combat fisheries crime.

In monetary terms, these crimes are vastly profitable.

A conservative estimate is that as much as 23.5 billion US dollars is lost to illegal and unregulated fishing – each year.


Contrary to common misconceptions, the largest black market in wildlife products in areas such as Southeast Asia and the Pacific is not related to mammal species or reptiles, but rather to marine wildlife.


Such as live reef fish for food, ornamental reef fish and corals.


This market – which does not include offshore illegal fishing – is according to the UNODC estimated to generate an income of approximately US$ 850 million for the criminal enterprises involved.


I believe this is an example that is relevant also on a global scale.


We can assume that the actual costs of fisheries crime – which include tax crime, human trafficking and other offences are far greater.


In the global fishing industry, transnational organized criminal networks are involved! To be able to profit when the fish enters the markets, they use corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and fraud.


These criminal networks are very well organised and connected.

Our goal is not only to stop the vessel from illegal fishing, but also to catch, investigate and prosecute the persons behind the crime.

International crime needs international solutions and a greater degree of cooperation.

The United Nations Crime Commission has adopted two resolutions on transnational organized crime committed at sea.


One in 2011 and one in 2013.


In 2017, Norway took the initiative to adopt a Nordic Minister Statement on fisheries crime.


Last year the five countries of the Nordics stated the following: We "are convinced that there is a need for the world community to recognize the existence of transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry. This activity has a serious effect on the economy. It distorts markets, harms the environment and undermines human rights."


However, there is still a need for more high-level recognition.


My hope is that other parts of the world will recognize this fact so that we can work together.


Today, when I am standing here in UN City in Copenhagen, my hope is that the UN will lift this work further.



Coordination is the key word.


Cooperation between fisheries authorities, customs authorities, the police, and others has been key to combating fisheries crime in Norwegian waters.


I urge the police and other law enforcement agencies, fisheries agencies and the judiciary, to do more to coordinate their work.


The prosecutors and the police must be involved in investigation of fisheries crime cases – like in any other cases of crime. We must deal with serious violations through the criminal justice system.



Before I conclude, I would like to thank you for standing united together to achieve this shared goal: to put a stop to crime against our fisheries resources – our global source of food, income, life and welfare.


The fight against fisheries crime started less than ten years ago. With a few dedicated individuals and a handful of countries. Since then we have seen the rise of a global movement.


The Nordic countries are a united front, but we need the whole of the international community through the UN to lift this important matter further.


I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the ministers, excellences and other participants attending here today.


I am much obliged for your taking time to put fisheries crime on the agenda and join forces with the other present here today.


Thank you very much for your good work!