Norway Satellites to Combat Illegal Fishing


Attendees of the 2023 Blue Justice Conference, UN City, Copenhagen

The Norwegian government is launching a global maritime surveillance program to combat fisheries crime. Over a third of all coastal states around the world will be able to use Norway's satellite data and expertise to monitor their sea areas and detect fishing-related crimes.

"This is bordercrossing organized economic crime, which drains the oceans for billions worth. Fishery crime threatens the ecosystems and the sustainability of the ocean and drains local communities for workplaces and values," states Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran in a press release from the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries.

According to the Minister, the fight against illegal fishery is important to an ocean state like Norway.

"We now share Norwegian technology and expertise with many other countries to deal with the problem."

For free

To provide data from Norwegian satellites to the other nations participating in the project, called the "Blue Justice Community", Norway will use the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Norwegian satellites collect around 2.1 billion tracking signals from all over the world each year.

The nations will get the information for free. After that, they can do their own research and detect, suppress and combat fisheries crime.

But that is not all. The participating countries of the "Blue Justice Community" project will be provided with free assistance from the Norwegian tracking unit in Vardø. It includes specialists from the Norwegian Coastal Administration and the Directorate of Fisheries.

“Combating fisheries crime is important for developing sustainable and fair maritime economies in developing countries,” says Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim.

She believes that vessel tracking may become a key tool for these countries.

The new maritime monitoring program was developed by the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s BarentsWatch and the Norwegian Space Agency.

Crucial for the United Nations

Norway is already funding a project against fishery crime under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The "Blue Justice Community" project will be an important contribution to this work.

“Norway, and especially the Nordic region, is a region that has much to offer the global South. What is unique about the Norwegian initiative is the combination of solid-state expertise with digitization and data sharing. This is absolutely essential for the United Nations in our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Ulrika Modeér, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Director of UNDP’s Office of External Relations.



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