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Norway´s coastal tourist fisheries - less than assumed

Tourist fishers in the business sector in Norway catch about 3 300 tons of fish a year, scientists at the Institute of Marine Research estimate. Earlier non-scientific estimates have suggested far higher numbers.    

By Marie Hauge

While as commercial fishermen are obliged to report the quantity and species composition of their catches, this has not been the case for recreational fishermen and tourists in Norway.

- The debate whether the tourist fishery is sustainable or not has up till now been based on opinions rather than facts. Now this matter can be discussed on a scientific basis, says scientist Jon Helge Vølstad, who has been in charge of the mapping project.

Recreational fishery includes all types of non commercial fisheries. The actual study has focused on the business sector of the tourist fishery. A tourist fisher is defined as a recreational fisher travelling from home to stay overnight.  The informal sector (private rentals, tents etc.) is not mapped in this round. Neither are Norwegians and legal residents staying at home or in their own cottage while fishing.

The numbers are based on a probability-based survey. Self-sampling is used to estimate catch and effort.

Almost ten times more fish is caught in the northern parts of Norway than in the rest of the country. The total catch is totally dominated by cod and saithe. 

The main objectives in this study were to quantify and characterize the total catch and effort in the tourist fishery along the Norwegian Coastal Zone, explains Vølstad. This is important for many reasons: e.g. to avoid the fish stocks from being overfished and to make sure that a sufficient quantity of fish survive till they can reproduce.