CapitalNorwayCapital: Oslo 

PopPopulation: 5.3 million (2018, Statistics Norway)

EuroGDP: €354 billion (2017, Eurostat)

GDP/capita: €67 100 (2017, 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. According to FAO 2018, in 2016, Norway was the 9th largest capture fishery and the 7th largest aquaculture producer. Norway produced 1.7% of the world’s total aquaculture production.

The main elements of Norwegian fisheries management are access and quota regulations, coupled with capacity adjustment schemes. In 2017, the total catch amounted to nearly 2.4 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 human consumption. The cod fisheries equated to approximately one third of the total catch but was worth around 55% of the total value. Herring had the largest capture at 526 168 tonnes. Norway pout and blue whiting are other important species but are mostly used as input in fish oil and fishmeal production. Herring and mackerel are used for both consumption and processing into oil and meal. Exports of fisheries products amounts to approximately €2.07 billion. Although there has been a general trend of first sales value increases over the past decade or so, prices fell between 2016 to 2017, falling from €1.6 billion to €1.5 billion.

In 2017, there were 11 230 fishermen, a 0.7 increase on the previous year. There was an increase of 60 fisherman, who registered it as their main occupation. A 44% reduction in the number of fishermen has occurred since 2000. However, the average age of fishermen has increased by 6 years in the last two decades. Since 2000, there has been a general trend of reduction in the number of vessels (53%). Yet, there was an increase in the number of vessels from 2016 (5 947) to 2017 (6 134). This increase affected vessel lengths of less than 11 meters

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.




Norway 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, scallop, European lobster (sea ranching) and blue mussels. Norway is the world’s leading producer of Atlantic salmon and one of the largest seafood exporters 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 1 289 808 tonnes in 2017.

In 2017, production of salmon and trout was nearly 1 284 682 tonnes, of which 1 219 235 tonnes were salmon and 65 447 tonnes were trout. In addition, fish farmers produce some 2 420 tonnes of shellfish. 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 2017, there were 1 598 companies with issued licenses of that 1 325 were for salmon and trout. The total number of employees in the aquaculture sector is 7 376, where the gender ratio favors men with 6 124 male employees.



NOR Proc

In 2017, continued the strong growth of the Norwegian fish and seafood industry reaching an export value of €10 billion. The continuous demand and high prices for Norwegian salmon on the global market are believed responsible. In 2017, the EU is the biggest market for fish and seafood from Norway, taking some 65% of total export volumes, with Denmark and Poland as the main destinations. The second largest market for Norwegian seafood is Asia with €1.9 billion, a 13% increase on 2016. These two markets make up 78% of all Norwegian exports. At present, Norway exports seafood to 149 countries in the world. A little over 70% of the seafood export value is represented by farmed fish species (Atlantic salmon, and sea trout), amounting to €6.6 billion, about 95% of farmed salmon is exported.

Norway is also one of the top two markets for fish and seafood from the EU, with 72% of all Norwegian imports coming from the EU. Although Norway exports the majority 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. Norway imported 133 700 tonnes of fishmeal in 2017. Total imports are valued at €1 billion.



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. Sales of fresh fish fillet increased the most. The most popular species among Norwegian' consumers are cod, salmon, shrimp, mackerel and European pollock.




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: 2.4 million tonnes live weight
(2017, Statistics Norway)

AquaAquaculture: 1.29 million tonnes live weight 
(2017, Statistics Norway)

TradeExport value: €10 billion (2017, EUMOFA)
Import value: €1 billion (2017, EUMOFA)


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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