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A development aid success story

“The EAF-Nansen Project”, in which The Institute of Marine Research plays a key role, is a great example of successful development aid.

Based on a number of strict criteria, the FAO – the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation – selects its most successful development aid projects. In order to earn the title “FAO Success Story”, a project must document that it has had a measurable positive impact, both locally and regionally. There is also a strong emphasis on qualities such as sustainability, competence building and replicability.

The Nansen project

The Institute of Marine Research operates the vessel and is responsible for the scientific results of the Nansen project. The project is financed by Norad/the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the FAO is in charge of the agreements with partner countries. In recent years, the project has become more ecosystem-oriented, and in 2009 it was renamed “The EAF Nansen project”. Åsmund Bjordal heads the Centre for Development Cooperation in Fisheries (CDCF) at The Institute of Marine Research. He feels that recognition of the project as a success story is also an important recognition of The Institute of Marine Research’s work.

- Many scientists and sailors at The Institute of Marine Research have contributed to the Nansen project over the years. Good collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Norad and the FAO have also been vital to the success of the project, he says.

Sharing knowledge and expertise

Norwegian development aid policy has at times been heavily criticised. Åsmund Bjordal wants to remind people that there are also successful projects. He says that fisheries aid in general has a good track record – as was confirmed by an independent evaluation in 2008.

- Norway has a strong heritage in fishing, and it has come a long way in terms of achieving good management of its fisheries. We can use our knowledge and expertise to help other countries to harvest their resources in a more sustainable way, says Bjordal.

Important to get a new boat

The F/F “Dr. Fridtjof Nansen” has played a key role in the Nansen project, but it is now almost 20 years old. Bjordal stresses that getting a new boat is essential to the continuation of the project.

- The Nansen project will continue to monitor marine resources, but in the future there will be a greater focus on global issues such as climate change, ocean acidification and preserving biodiversity. Our ability to meet those challenges is entirely dependent on us having a modern research vessel. Without a new boat, the Nansen project will probably be phased out from 2015 onwards, says Bjordal.

The Research Vessels Department and the CDCF are contributing to a report setting out the need for a new boat. The report will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs by 15 June.


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EAF-Nansen Project

• EAF stands for Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries.

• The project is designed to help developing countries to learn more about marine resources and to assist with the introduction of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.

• The project, which has been running since 1975, is a collaboration between The Institute of Marine Research, Norad and the FAO – the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

• It is managed from the FAO’s head office in Rome.

• The research vessel F/F “Dr. Fridtjof Nansen” carries out most of the missions to study ecosystems within the project.

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