Sustainable Fishing : Norway and Iceland Lead the Way

Much of the Earth is covered with water, which based on geographical studies represent about 71 to 72% of the globe’s surface. About 96.5% of that water covering the Earth are held by oceans. Yet despite the vastness of the aquatic environments that serve as habitats to fish species and other marine life, the world is at risk of losing many of the fisheries that provide the food that billions of humans consume every day.

That is because researchers have found out that every year, as much as 77 billion kilograms of different fish species and other aquatic creatures are fished out of the oceans. Countries therefore have been warned about overfishing and the use of fishing methods that speed up the depletion of fish populations all over the world.

Although, governments now have fishing laws and agencies in place to manage their respective fisheries, the laws and sustainable fishing methods observed and adopted by Norway and Iceland have been noted as exceptional and worthy of emulation.

NORWAY – The World’s Second Largest Seafood Exporter

Norwegian government imposes strict laws for catching Norwegian Arctic cod. Actually the laws have been in place since 1816, which ensured the longevity in supply of the country’s local cod fish or skrei.

Every year, over 400 million skrei travel and migrate to the coast. However, the Norwegian Seafood Council imposes strict conditions that qualify only about 10 percent of the cod caught during fishing operations, which take place only between January and April. That is because only full grown and wild cod, without imperfections such as nicks and bruises, qualify as commercial skrei.

After undergoing inspections, the Marine Stewardship Council approves and certifies the caught skrei, to which the council requires packing within 12 hours. The remaining 90% of the skrei that migrated are then brought back to the Barents Sea to promote growth in the species’s population.

The most important aspect of the system is the Council’s strict policing of the sustainable processes that ensure the efficiency of the country’s fishing laws.

ICELAND – Foremost in the Development of the Fish Quota System

Like Norway, Iceland has had fishing regulations in place long before other countries depleted their fish supply. In 1901, the government of Iceland imposed a fishing zone limit of 3 miles, where only Icelanders have the right to fish. The purpose of which is to protect the country’s supply of cod and haddock, which at that time was already noted as diminishing. In 1976, the government of Iceland had expanded the fishing zone limit to 200 miles.

In 1995, Iceland also introduced a system that prescribe fishing quotas to regulate the volume of stock that every fishing vessel are allowed to haul in as catch. First off, the total allowable catch for a specific period of the year is established, which is 25 % of the stock available. Stock availability is determined twice during the year by scientists, who undertake re-evaluation of quotas. If the available stock falls as a result of the previous fishing operations, the limiting system automatically calls for the closure of the fishing ground.

Fishing as recreation and as a means of livelihood both require great understanding and knowledge, to which websites like provide comprehensive information.