Fishing isn’t an industry – it’s a way of life

Throughout history Norwegians have lived in harmony with the sea. We have harvested and sustained it to release its full potential, always working as holistically as possible.

Fishing communities have been the beating heart of Norway for thousands of years and the fishing tradition has been handed down from generation to generation. Our ancestors’ craftsmanship and knowledge lives on within us, while skills and practices have been refined over the years to ensure Norwegian cod is the very best quality.

The beginning

We can´t say for certain when the story of our fisheries started, but we do know that it is a rich and diverse history. Rock carvings in Northern Norway date as far back as the Stone Age, and from early on, fish was an important resource and a means of survival along the coast.

Norwegian cod dates back centuries, with the earliest documentation of it in Egil´s saga of 875. Leiv Eiriksson took dried codfish as provision on his expedition voyage when he discovered America in 1001 AD. Export of dried codfish started in the 12th century, and the first shipment of clipfish from Norway was dispatched in 1692. Favourable climatic conditions were key elements in the processing of fish products. Stockfish and clipfish, which were among the first Norwegian export products, are the result of optimal weather conditions.

For centuries, the rich resources of the sea have provided a solid foundation for the dynamic communities that exist along the entire Norwegian coast. The Norwegian coastline stretches for more than 101,000 km and fisheries have been, are, and will always be of the utmost importance to coastal life. These rich resources have laid the foundation for the livelihood of the sparse population, unique to Norway, and today there is lively activity and economic growth throughout the entire Norwegian economic zone, which stretches 200 nautical miles out from the coast.

Dried fish has been exported to Europe since the Viking age.

As important today as ever

The last decades Norway has been strongly associated with oil. Oil has been of extreme importance to the growth of this small country over the last 40-50 years, but from a historical perspective, seafood has been its most important export article.

Norwegian fisheries are, however, far more than history. The industry still generates active communities today and provides a future for many people. Given Norway’s unique combination of nature, culture and resource administration, Norwegian seafood is a world-class product competing in elite international markets.The international importance of the industry is clearly demonstrated by the fact that Norwegian seafood travels to over 140 different countries.

In 2019 the seafood industry reached a new milestone with the export value passing NOK 100 billion for the first time, with an export value of over NOK 107 billion.

A journey through time

Over the past 100 years, fishing in Norway has been shaped into the world class industry it is today. From the implementation of quotas to the funding of the Norwegian Seafood Council, discover how far the industry has come.

Historical image of fishermen in their boats