Illegal fishing activity in the Barents Sea appears to have been greatly reduced thanks to the joint efforts of the Norwegian and Russian governments. Helga Pedersen, Norway’s Minister of Fisheries, claims that so-called ‘black fishing’ in the area has dropped around 84 percent from its 2005 levels.
“Based on detailed analysis carried out by the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, overfishing of cod amounted to about 100,000 tonnes every single year from 2002 to 2005. This put enormous pressure on fish stocks, the fishing industry and the communities along the coast that depend on fishing,” Pedersen said to the Norway Post.
Illegal fishing in the Barents Sea is organised by international criminal groups. In the past, the bulk of the blame fell on Russian fishermen. But now, Pedersen admits that Norwegian criminals are also deeply involved in the finance and organisation of ‘black fishing’ in the Barents Sea.
Norway’s police are presently searching for Norwegians believed to be involved in the illegal international fishing ring. Representatives from Russia and Norway met recently in Bergen and drew up a plan that involves deeper cooperation between the Coast Guards of the two nations to catch the offenders.
In 2008, the illegal fishing of cod was reduced to just 15,000 tonnes, down from around 100,000 tonnes in previous years. This is both a victory for the environment as well as a boon for local fishermen who legally eek out a living along Norway’s coasts.