The new coastal fishermen

Increasingly more foreign tourists, including many fishing enthusiasts, are choosing adventure holidays. The many fishing tourists provide new opportunities for the coastal population, but there are also concerns about the effects on coastal fish stocks.

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Norwegian nature sells

Nature-based tourism has for a long time been one of Norway’s largest profiling elements. Tourists have primarily been engaging in the more passive form of experience like Hurtigruten, national tourist and mountain routes and whale safaris.

Today tourists tend to be more attracted to active holidays. There is a strong demand for coastal experiences, in which marine recreational fishing has become an important product.

Commercial fishermen fear empty sea

Commercial fisheries form an important part of the coastal economy and coastal tradition in Norway. The fisheries sector has expressed scepticism about the increase in Norwegian marine fishing tourism. In the late 1990s, many newspaper articles were published about foreign tourists taking too much of “our” fish. Commercial fishermen expressed a worry that these new coastal fishermen threatened their existence.

“There is a need to manage marine fishing tourism, both to reduce conflicts with commercial fishermen and to ensure sustainable management of coastal fish stocks. The latter applies not least because innovations in recreational fishing technology have contributed to an increased catch capacity in the recreational fleet,” says tourism researcher Trude Borch at Nofima in Tromsø.

…, and new opportunities too

The increasing number of recreational fishers visiting Norway has also created new opportunities. By offering arrangements for fishing and boat rental in combination with accommodation in cabins and rorbu (fishermen’s cottages), increased value creation may be achieved from Norwegian coastal tourism.

Regulation proposal

The Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs’ Fishing Tourism Advisory Committee has presented a proposal for further regulation of Norwegian marine fishing tourism. This includes a proposal that on leaving Norway the tourists must present a “contract note” from a registered tourism enterprise before they are permitted to take their allotted 15 kg of fish out of the country.

A contribution to the coastal economy

A further development of Norwegian coastal tourism, in addition to fishing tourism, will demand cooperation between the various coastal industries: fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.

“There is broad agreement that coordination of resources is not only a good idea, but totally decisive in the development of tourism,” says Borch. “When this agreement exists, why is it so difficult to accomplish cooperation?”

A research project funded by the Research Council of Norway under the auspices of Nofima and the Centre for Rural Research (NTNU), in collaboration with Hurtigruten, the Norwegian Seafood Export Council and Rica Hotels, has commenced to study the cooperation between the seafood industries and the tourism industry. The objective of the project, which is entitled CoastTour, is to increase innovation and value creation along the Norwegian coast through the development of coastal tourism.

Further value creation

It has previously been mapped that the fishing tourists contribute to significant economic impact along the Norwegian coast.

As a humorous and thought-provoking element in this, it has been found that groups of tourists not including women spend more on sports equipment, while groups with female travellers spend more on clothes. Families with children spend less on boat rental and fuel, but in general have a higher total consumption than male angling parties. There is much to be gained by making the necessary arrangements so the coastal destinations can offer several types of activities, over and above fishing.

“Only creativity limits the fishery and aquaculture industry’s contribution to continued business development to safeguard Norwegian coastal economies and our coastal settlement pattern. Conveying the Norwegian coastal culture and Norwegian food culture must form a central part of this,” says Borch.

“An increased level of cooperation between the seafood industries and the tourism industry will strengthen Norway’s reputation both as a tourism destination and as a seafood producing nation.”

CoastTour is a three-year project managed by the Centre for Rural Research (NTNU) with Nofima as research partner. The project commenced in October 2011 and shall be completed by August 2014.

Industrial Economics  

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