The ocean nation of Norway

Every day hundreds of thousands of Norwegians go to work in the ocean industries, which together account for about 70 per cent of Norway’s export earnings.

Norway today is a leading ocean nation. Our coastline is one of the longest in the world, and the marine areas we manage are more than five times as large as the land. Many thousands of Norwegians spend their workdays in one of the ocean industries within the oil and gas, maritime and seafood sectors.

These industries are so large that they account for nearly 70 per cent of Norwegian export earnings.

  • Norway is one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers.
  • It is one of the world’s largest and most advanced shipping nations.
  • It is the world’s second largest exporter of fish and seafood.
  • It also has a world-class supply industry.
  • Norway is at the forefront of ocean research and responsible marine resource management.


For generations our ancestors lived off the rich fish stocks along the Norwegian coast. Their tools and equipment improved continuously, as did their knowledge of the sea.  From the time of the Hanseatic League, the growth of Bergen and Trondheim as cities and trading centres has depended on the teeming fisheries of the Lofoten archipelago. Coastal trade using small square-sailed vessels between North Norway and the country’s west and south-west lasted for centuries and gave rise to new industries and opportunities. As technology developed so did the vessels, forming a bridge to the proud sailing ships of the 19th century, when Norway became the third largest shipping nation in the world.

The days of sail gave way to steam and eventually to the modern maritime industry, from which Norway’s epic adventure in oil arose. Today we see new bridges being built. Offshore petroleum technology is fundamental to the development of offshore aquaculture and ocean-based renewable energy.

The waves of technological change that led to Norway’s modern, high-tech character originated in the traditional ocean industries. It is now our generation’s turn. Norway’s objective at sea is always to be best.

We cannot know all the future holds. What we know for sure is that the oceans will remain a key source of prosperity and growth. According to OECD estimates, ocean-based industries could double their contribution to the global economy by 2030. Yet the oceans are under pressure as a result of climate change, overfishing and pollution. For the ocean economy to continue growing, we must succeed at harvesting ocean resources sustainably and viewing the sea from a whole-earth perspective. Norway will continue to invest in the ocean industries where it is already strong while encouraging research, innovation and technological development in promising new areas.