Norway has become the first country in Europe to partner with Global Fishing Watch—an international non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing ocean governance through increased transparency—and will share its vessel tracking data for the Norwegian fishing fleet on the organisation’s public map.
The announcement was made at the second United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal where countries from around the world are gathering to mobilize action and innovative solutions to some of the ocean’s most pressing threats.
Under the memorandum of understanding, which was signed between Global Fishing Watch and Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries, Norway has agreed to share the vessel monitoring system data for vessels 15 meters or more in length on the Global Fishing Watch map.
“Wild living marine resources are a common good and belong to everyone,” said Frank Bakke-Jensen, director general of the Directorate of Fisheries in Norway. “When a commercial fishing fleet is licensed to utilize this common good, we are obliged and committed to share fisheries data documenting the environmental footprint of commercial fishing activity. We hope that others will follow this approach and share more fisheries data.”
“We believe that improved transparency of fishing data is necessary to reduce the risk of illegal fisheries and set the groundwork for improved compliance,” said Thord Monsen, head of monitoring, control and surveillance at the Directorate of Fisheries.
The incorporated data will span a total of approximately 600 vessels—all vessels 15 meters in length or more predominantly operating in Norwegian waters and the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Norway is currently expanding its VMS requirement to include all commercial fishing vessels, as well as increasing the frequency that vessels need to report their position—a requirement which will be implemented over the coming years in a phased approach.
“We’re seeing more and more countries embrace fisheries transparency, demonstrating their understanding of just how essential public data is to the effective management of fishing activity,” said Tony Long, chief executive officer of Global Fishing Watch. “Norway has taken a leading global role in the sustainable ocean economy and is using its experience and expertise to promote better ocean governance. By bringing its fishing fleet into our map, Norway is paving the way for other countries, including developed nations, to follow suit.”
Since October 2019 Norway has shared its VMS tracking information on the Fisheries Directorate website in support of transparency and as part of an effort to make government data public whenever possible. The partnership with Global Fishing Watch will help make its vessel tracking data more accessible to a wider range of stakeholders—a substantial benefit in the sphere of international fisheries management.
With a coastline of more than 83,000 kilometers, including islands and fjords, the fishing sector is a key element to Norway’s economic, social and cultural identity. Norway is the second largest exporter of fish and fish products by value in the world and is home to some of the most productive marine areas in the world. An influential voice when it comes to fisheries issues and a leader on blue economy issues, Norway’s decision to partner with Global Fishing Watch and amplify its vessel tracking data demonstrates how fisheries transparency can be adopted in countries where fishing represents such a significant part of the economy.
“Data can be a powerful tool in protecting the environment, as we have seen in our work on climate change. The more data we have about the ocean, the better we can protect it and the people that rely on it. Norway’s commitment to making fishing vessel data accessible to the world – via Global Fishing Watch – is a great step forward for ocean transparency,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions. “Their commitment to data-sharing is a model other countries can follow, and it will help demonstrate the effectiveness – environmentally and economically – of sustainable fishing.”
Norway joins a growing number of progressive countries from around the world that are dedicated to advancing, and benefiting from, fisheries transparency, which include: Benin, Brazil, Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.