Safeguarding our stocks

Norwegian fisheries manage our incredible natural heritage, which unsurprisingly carries obligations.

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Over the years our industry has evolved from free fishing to strict regulations. We were the first country in the world to implement a quota system, and our hard work has paid off; we have the largest and most sustainable cod stock in the world.

As a direct result of this, the quota for Norwegian cod has been at a record high1 over recent years.

1According to recommendations from the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

The quota system

The above diagram denotes the Barents Sea cod quota. Barents Sea cod is our most important commercial stock of cod, accounting for 93% of our catches.

Worldwide, countries are now dedicated to meeting quotas to ensure the future of fishing, particularly when it comes to cod. The Norwegian Total Allowable Catches (TAC) are split into group quotas, which correspond to the different groups of vessels:

Individual Vessel Quotas

These quotas are fixed for each participating vessel holding a license or annual permit. This guarantees them a fixed proportion of the group quota.

Maximum Quotas

These quotas are allocated to coastal vessels in open access fisheries. Once the group quota has been reached, fishing ceases, regardless of whether each individual vessel has reached its maximum quota. This system is used in groups where the efficiency of vessels varies widely.

Groundfish Quota

This predominantly regulates coastal vessels using conventional gear rather than trawlers. The groundfish quota combines the quotas for cod, haddock and saithe from each vessel participating.

Chart showing quotas

Transferring quotas

To help reduce fleet capacity in our waters and protect our marine ecosystem, some quotas are transferable.

In 2004, the Unit Quota System (UQS) and, for the larger coastal vessels, the Structural Quota System (SQS) were been implemented, both allowing the owner of two vessels to transfer the quota from one to another. This has lead to two options for the owner: to fish the entire quota on one vessel for a set period; or fish part of the quota for an unlimited period, on the proviso that the other vessel is scrapped.

A third transfer method was made policy in 2005 to aid owners with only one vessel. The Quota Exchange System allows two vessel owners to team up, fishing both quotas on one vessel for a limited period.

Norwegian cod quotas

With abundant fish stocks in our clear, cold waters, we manage the largest and most sustainable cod stocks in the world here in Norway.

By implementing these strict quotas, it enables us to maintain healthy fish stocks, ensuring we have never – and will never – overfish.

How this affects the global industry

Every quota is based on research and is set as a result of international negotiations. This is vital to Norwegian seafood – particularly cod – given that 90% of our fisheries involve stocks we share with other nations.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) are central to this inter-country cooperation.

Quota negotiations with other fisheries’ management authorities are held annually. We have management cooperation agreements with our neighbouring countries, including Russia, Iceland, Greenland, and the EU.

Norway has a long tradition of managing fisheries in harmony with the environment.