Hamburg: Sustainable marine resource management
Minister Berg-Hansen, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen.
The citizens of Hamburg know the blessings and challenges of the sea. For Hamburg, the sea has been the main source of prosperity. It is therefore not surprising that the birthday of the harbour is the city’s most important celebration. This is something that I, as a Norwegian, can relate to.
Norway is fortunate to have a multitude of natural resources. The sea provides one of the most important ones: the fisheries. Norway has the world’s second longest coastline, and its sea territory is six times larger than the mainland.
Managing the marine resources of this vast area entails many opportunities, but also great responsibility. We have the opportunity to provide the world with healthy seafood of exquisite quality, and to offer the people along our coast a prosperous livelihood. At the same time, we have the responsibility to manage these vulnerable resources in a sound and sustainable way.
Norway is the world’s second largest exporter of seafood. Our commercial fish stocks are viable and healthy. However, we had to learn some hard lessons to get where we are today.
Let me give you an example. In the 1960s, the stock of Norwegian spring-spawning herring collapsed. Until then, this “silver of the seas” was considered an inexhaustible resource. With a very strict management regime we managed, however, to rebuild the stock. Today it is the largest herring stock in the world.
As a result of this experience, marine research, sustainable management, extensive controls and international cooperation have been – and continue to be – cornerstones of Norwegian fisheries policy.
There are new challenges ahead. Fish stocks are under increasing pressure from climate change, pollution and the threat of overexploiting stocks. The world’s population is growing rapidly.
Meeting these challenges requires a strong commitment to sustainability: responsible management of marine resources, marine research and broad international cooperation.
In my view, today’s topic could not be more relevant, or more important. International cooperation is needed to push the agenda forward. We need predictable international support and, partners like Germany, who understands what marine resource management is all about.
I wish you fruitful discussions and a rewarding seminar.