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Norway has a strong commitment to the global Ocean agenda and to sustainable development.
The world’s growing population will need more food, medicines, energy, and minerals.
If managed wisely, the oceans hold the key to meeting these needs.
Like rain forests, the oceans are important in combatting global warming.
However, climate change and abuse of marine environment and resources, such as pollution, acidification and overfishing, are creating problems.
This applies both inside and outside national jurisdictions.
I believe sustainable use of the Ocean will pay off. It will be the smartest investment we ever made.
To make this a reality, we are facing a double challenge:
- We need policies to promote economic development and increase Ocean productivity.
- And, we have to stop the destruction of the world’s marine ecosystems.
We need a to-do-list.
Discussion is important, but in the end, it all boils down to action.
Norway would like to contribute to this.
Therefore, I have established an international High-Level Panel on Sustainable Ocean Economy.
The Panel will highlight the relationship between a clean and healthy Ocean, sustainable use of Ocean resources and economic growth and development.
The overall objective is to increase global awareness of how responsible ocean management can help us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
A group of experts will provide the scientific background information and be responsible for drafting the final report of the Panel.
To ensure early input to the Panel, I have decided to organise an Ocean science conference in Norway this autumn.
I would like to invite researchers from all G7 countries to participate along with scientists from the Panel-countries.
The Panel will conclude its work with a final report in 2020, ahead of the planned second UN Ocean Conference.
Norway has also taken the initiative to establish a multi-donor trust fund in the World Bank to improve waste management and prevent marine litter.
Norway is looking forward to working with G7 countries and other partners to ensure support and complementarity of the financial initiatives.
Two thirds of Norway’s export earnings originate from ocean and coastal activities.
We have learned that it is fully possible to combine different ocean-based industries (petroleum, fisheries and aquaculture) and ensure a healthy marine environment, as long as solid environmental standards are in place.
Our management of living marine resources is based on scientific knowledge. Internationally shared stocks are managed in accordance with bilateral and regional agreements.
The importance of science-based management can hardly be overestimated. It is no coincidence that our most valuable fish stock – the Barents Sea cod – is in a healthy shape.
The reason is thorough collection and analyses of key data year after year.
And the fact that our fisheries managers put great emphasis on scientific advice when quotas are set.
Making fisheries truly sustainable is like a jigsaw puzzle.
All pieces must be present.
In the case of the Barents Sea cod, there was a problem with illegal fishing in the years following the millennium.
Through common efforts, Norway and Russia greatly reduced the problem.
However, illegally caught fish still found its way into some EU ports.
When this problem was acknowledged, measures were taken through regional cooperation to control the landings.
Soon illegally caught fish was no longer accepted for landings in European ports.
This is a good example of the importance of transboundary cooperation in the management of transboundary fish stocks and could set an example for global management of marine resources.
Our experience and knowledge about sustainable fisheries management is the foundation of our “Fish for development” programme.
The aim is to assist developing countries in mapping their fish stocks and their marine environment, as well as to train their researchers and develop fisheries management plans.
We are also combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.
Finally, let me also mention that Norway will host the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo in October next year.
As with the high level panel, key point on the agenda will be how we can strike the balance between sustainable use of Ocean resources and a healthy Ocean environment.
I hope to see representatives of all the countries present here today in Oslo next year.
I wish Kenya (and Canada) good luck with the Blue Economy conference this autumn.