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Better management of shared Norwegian-Russian fish resources

The management of the shared Norwegian-Russian fish stocks in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea has been strengthened since 2005, and the unregistered overfishing of cod and haddock has been considerably reduced. - Some challenges remain, however, in the areas of resource control and sanctions, and organised fisheries crime is not uncovered to a satisfactory extent, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 5/3/2011 12:00 PM

Document 3:8 (2010–2011) The Office of the Auditor General's follow-up of the parallel audit with the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation of the management of the fish resources in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea was submitted to the Storting on 3 May 2011.

The investigation, which was carried out as a parallel audit with the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, is a follow-up of Document No 3:2 (2007-2008). The Office of the Auditor General of Norway and the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation have cooperated on the follow-up investigations, but have prepared independent audit reports. On this basis, Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo and Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation Sergej Stepashin have signed a memorandum containing joint findings and assessments.

The investigations of the two supreme audit institutions show that the illegal and unregistered overfishing of cod in the Barents Sea has decreased considerably, from an estimated 100,000 tonnes in 2005 to no cases being uncovered in 2009. However, the investigations show that there are still considerable differences between the Norwegian and Russian fisheries control systems and between the legislation and regulations of the two countries in the fisheries sector. There is also room for improvement in both countries’ national management of the shared fish resources.

Despite important progress, some unsolved tasks remain in relation to cooperation between the authorities of the two countries, for example as regards the exchange of information. - A permanent solution has yet to be found to the problem of illegal, unreported and unregistered fishing. The supreme audit institutions of the two countries therefore emphasise that the Norwegian and Russian authorities must continue their broad efforts to combat such activities, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.

The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into Norway’s management of the shared fish resources shows that the Directorate of Fisheries’ resource control has been strengthened, among other things as a result of increased resources and new technical aids. However, the Directorate of Fisheries carry out few inspections of certain types of production plants, the fish sales organisations’ control practices in areas other than quota control vary, and the Coast Guard’s presence at sea has been reduced. 

The investigation also shows that the Norwegian system for control and enforcement largely ensures that sanctions are imposed on those who violate the fisheries regulations. Previously detected weaknesses in the legislation have been remedied, but the police’s case processing times are relatively long and cooperation between the police and the control agencies is not sufficient to uncover and investigate organised fisheries crime and to punish the parties responsible for such activity.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs agree that further work is needed on Norway’s part in certain areas. The Ministry refers to the Norwegian authorities’ broad-based work on combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and on improving the control of catches of marine resources from the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea.

The document can be downloaded via the link on the right. Public institutions can order the document from Government Administration Services, tel. (+47) 22 24 20 00, publikasjonsbestilling@dss.dep.no. Others can order the document from Fagbokforlaget, tel. (+47) 55 38 66 00, offpub@fagbokforlaget.no.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 3:8 (2010-2011), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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