CapitalNorwayCapital: Oslo 

PopPopulation: 5.21 million (2016, Eurostat)

EuroGDP: €243 billion (2015, Eurostat)

GDP/capita: €67,600 (2015, Eurostat)




Overview of the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture sector 

Fisheries sector

NOR Fish

The Norwegian coast is 21,000 km long and the prospect for expanding fisheries and marine aquaculture in the country is huge. Norway has 90,000 km² of sea within the baseline, which corresponds to approximately 1/3 of the total land area. Throughout  its history, fishery has been a major industry in Norway. Norway’s geographical characteristics, long coastline, and climatic factors have made the country extremely well suited for this industry. Norway was ranked by the FAO as the 11th largest player concerning fisheries and aquaculture production representing approximately 1,83 % of the global catch and production in 2013.

The main elements of Norwegian fisheries management are access and quota regulations, coupled with capacity adjustment schemes. In 2015, the total catch amounted to nearly 2.46 million tonnes. The most important parts of the Norwegian fisheries industry today are fisheries for cod (coastal and high seas), herring, capelin and mackerel. Included in the cod fisheries are also haddock and saithe, which are mainly used for consumption. Capelin is mostly used as input in fish oil and fishmeal production. Herring and mackerel are used both for consumption and for processing into oil and meal. Fisheries make up 31 % of total exports or around €2.07 billion. The value of first sales in Norway has increased from around €1.6 billion to approximately €2.2 billion in the past 15 years, a 38 % increase.

During the last 15 years, the number of registered vessels and fishermen has fallen steadily. In 2016, 11,146 people registered fishing as their main occupation, half as many as the amount registered in the early 1990s. In total, 5,887 vessels were operating in 2015, of which 80 % were coastal vessels with a hull length of less than 11 metres, typically operated by one person.

Approximately 90 % of Norway’s catch volume comes from stocks in zones shared with other countries.  The most important fish stocks quota levels are set in cooperation with other countries, including Russia, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the EU. In Norway, first sales of fishery products are managed through the systems of six sales cooperatives. Norges Sildesalgslag, The Norwegian Fishermen’s Sales Organisation for Pelagic Fish, is Europe’s largest marketplace for first sales of pelagic species.


NO AQUNorway has a long coastline of clean, fresh seawater that provides the best conditions possible for the operation of sustainable aquaculture activities. Norway is among the foremost in the world with respect to expertise  in operation, technology, and research and development in the field of aquaculture. Aquaculture and sea ranching include a number of different activities where licenses are required. Production of salmon and rainbow trout is the most common activity, but there is also production of cod and halibut, scallops, European lobster (sea ranching) and blue mussels. Norway is the world’s leading producer of Atlantic salmon and the second largest seafood exporter in the world. The Norwegian aquaculture industry has developed to become an industry of major importance in the country. Commercial salmon farming started to develop in the 1970s, and at present, farming of Atlantic salmon and trout is taking place from regions ranging from the south to north. Norway´s total aquaculture production was 1,378,066 tonnes in 2015.

In 2015, production of salmon and trout was nearly 1,376,353 tonnes, of which 1,303,346 tonnes were salmon and 72,921 tonnes were trout. In addition, fish farmers produce some 10,000 tonnes of cod, 2,000 tonnes of shellfish, and smaller volumes of other species. The long-term growth and development of the sector depends on an environmentally sustainable aquaculture industry, minimizing risks to the marine environment and biological diversity. In 2015, there were 1,151 companies with issued licenses. The total number of employees in the aquaculture sector is 6,872, where the gender ratio favors men with 5,682 male employees.

Processing and trade

NOR Proc

The EU is the biggest market for fish and seafood from Norway, taking some 50–55 % of total export volumes, with Poland and France as the main destinations. Norway is one of the top two markets for fish and seafood from the EU, taking 13 % of exported goods, most of which are fish oil and fishmeal for aquaculture feed production. The second largest market for Norwegian seafood was Asia with €1.09 billion, a 24 % increase, followed by Eastern Europe with €1.05 billion, an increase of 10 %. At present, Norway exports seafood to 140 countries in the world.

The year 2015 showed a strong growth of the Norwegian fish and seafood value and a new export record of €7.43 billion was set, caused by strong demand and high prices for Norwegian salmon on the global market. Nearly 70 % of the seafood export value is represented by farmed fish species, Atlantic salmon, and sea trout, amounting to €4.69 billion. Although Norway exports about 90 % of its production, in recent years imports have grown significantly. This is partly because of the need to import fishmeal, fish oil and fish feed for its growing aquaculture industry. The main suppliers are the EU member states and countries in South America.


Consumption of fish and seafood products was 43.4 kg per capita in 2015. Fresh fish represents over half of all fish products bought for home consumption, while frozen fish is about one third. An increase in sales of fresh fish has been observed, alongside a decrease in sales of fish with bones and skin. Sales of fresh fish fillet increased the most. The most popular species among Norwegian' consumers are cod, salmon, shrimp, mackerel and European pollock. 


Overcapacity is probably the most fundamental challenge for fisheries management; failing to address this problem will hamper progress in other areas as profitability will remain poor. The small-scale coastal fleet constitutes an important part of the overall fishing fleet, and thus the issue of overcapacity must also be tackled in this fleet segment.

A clear and transparent international framework for private standards is lacking, as is a framework for certification procedures. There is a considerable need for more transparency among fisheries managers, private standard-setters, accredited certification agencies and wholesalers / retailers.

In aquaculture, the main problem is disease in the fish farming sector, which also has spill-over on wild marine capture fisheries. Disease, including parasites such as sea lice, continues to be a major loss factor in the aquaculture industry.

Useful Links for Norway

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NO l

Fish production and trade:

Fishing BoatCapture: 2.46 million tonnes live weight
(2015, Statistics Norway)

AquaAquaculture: 1.37 million tonnes live weight 
(2015, Statistics Norway)

TradeExport value: €7.47 billion (2015, Statistics Norway)
Import value: €0.4 billion (2015, Statistics Norway)


Download Norway's fisheries and aquaculture fact sheet


Features in Eurofish Magazine:

Eurofish Magazine 3 2018

Eurofish Magazine 1 2017

Eurofish Magazine 6 2016

Eurofish Magazine 3 2015

Eurofish Magazine 4 2013

Eurofish Magazine 1 2011

The most recent articles featuring Norway in the Eurofish Magazine are listed here.

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