Just as the sea and the resources within largely define our history, I believe it will also define our future. Development for the people of the north means taking care of our sustainable natural resources and our sea.
Continuously growing in value, seafood is one of Norway's most important natural resources, and to a large degree defines Norway and the people living here, especially if we look at it historically.
The cod is often spoken of as the fish that built our nation. Salmon could be said to be the fish that won the world. The value of Norway’s seafood exports has doubled in the last ten years. How much it will be in ten or twenty years from now is still a question, but we need to focus on sustainable management of our natural resources to find out.
Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture policy is based on sustainable resource management. In the wild fisheries, quota regulations are based on scientific advice. In aquaculture, the authorities, research communities and industry are all working together to enable Norwegian aquaculture to operate within a sustainable framework.
The Arctic Council's vision for the Arctic marine environment is "a healthy and productive Arctic Ocean and coasts that support environmental, economic and sociocultural values for current and future generations."
Here, the concept of sustainable management is at the very core.
Sustainable management of the natural resources is a question of securing them for the current and future generations. For Norwegian seafood, it is also an important value-adding part of the marketing done world-wide, thus forcing us to commit all the way back to how take care of our ocean. The brand of Norwegian seafood is built around three core values; the natural conditions with the cold and clear waters, the people and the sea, with long traditions of exploiting marine resources, and sustainable management.
The environmental dimension is a global consumer trend and includes the aspects of food that is safe to eat, and that is environmentally friendly produced. Put another way, consumers world-wide demand our commitment.
As in Norway, all people in the Arctic have lived in close relation with nature and the resources it provides us. There is a great unrealized potential that we must not forsake, with great economic opportunities, not only in the primary sector with industries like fisheries, but also in tourism, energy and research, to mention some.
Taking care of, and responsibly managing our resources is a premise for growth and development. We need economic incentives to move investments to those industries that are dependent on sustainable management of our resources, and away from those that cause pollution and climate change.
The Arctic Council holds an important role in putting the consequences of pollution and climate change on the agenda. Through the program of monitoring and assessment, it contributes strongly in providing scientific foundations for government decisions and policy making. This work gives us all access to the same reports about the consequences of climate change and how to tackle pollution.
The question that remains unanswered is why we fail to commit – why we do not take the necessary measures for our future in the sea.
Future arctic leaders from the Arctic States were last week gathered in Ottawa for a workshop. The occation was the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, and the young leaders met in Canada to discuss and share their vision for the future of the Arctic.
The Norwegian participants, Andreas Østhagen, Siri Beate Arntzen, Lena Fjellvang and Marion Aslaksen Ravna were all presenting a paper, and you can now read their thoughts on the Arctic future here in High North News.
Read all papers:
Developing the "North"? The Implications of Generalization
Our Future in the Sea
Indigenous Rights in the Arctic -an uncertain situation
Building Attractice and Sustainable Communities