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Post-Agreement Bargaining in the Barents Sea Fisheries: Strategies for Coping with Overfishing

The Barents Sea cod fishery is the single most important fishery for Norway, both commercially and in terms of maintaining viable communities along the coast. Since 1976, this fishery has been managed bilaterally by Norway and the Soviet Union/Russian Federation through the Joint Norwegian-Soviet/Russian Fisheries Commission. While generally considered to be an example of successful international collaboration, the management regime has met new challenges since the late 1990s: massive overfishing by Russian vessels, difficulties for Norwegian research vessels in getting access to the Russian economic zone, a tougher stance by the Russians in the Fishery Protection Zone around Svalbard, and pressure from the Russian side to set quotas far above precautionary reference points. Two of the most topical questions, as seen from the Norwegian side, are the following:
   How do we get fishermen to comply with regulations?
   How do we get the Russian party to comply with its international obligations, including those concluded at the bilateral level with Norway?

These questions resonate with social science theories on compliance at two levels: individuals' compliance with regulations and states' compliance with their international commitments. While traditional perspectives view enforcement and other coercive measures as most important in bringing about compliance, critics emphasise the potential of various discursive measures, e.g. bargaining about compliance with target groups after a rule has been adopted (at the individual level) or a treaty concluded (at the international level). While as yet largely unstudied, Norwegian authorities apply a range of discursive measures, or post-agreement bargaining, in their efforts to bring about compliance at individual and state level in the Barents Sea fisheries. The project will investigate the effects of these efforts and make the findings relevant for adjacent (law) and more distant (fish biology) fields of study.

Project team:
Geir Hønneland (Project Leader)
Anne-Kristin Jørgensen (PhD student)

Project period: 2006-2016


Hønneland, Geir, 'Compliance and Postagreement Bargaining in the Barents Sea Fisheries'. Ocean Development and International Law, Vol 45, No 2, 2014, pp. 186-204.

Hønneland, Geir, Making Fishery Agreements Work: Post-Agreement Bargaining in the Barents Sea. Cheltenham/Northampton, MA, Edward Elgar, 2012 (hardback), 2013 (paperback),160 p.

Hønneland, Geir, 'Kompromiss als Routine: Russisch-Norwegische Konfliktlösung in der Barentssee' ('Compromise as Routine: Russian-Norwegian Conflict Resolution in the Barents Sea'). In 'Logbuch Arktis', Osteuropa, Vol 61, Nos 2-3, 2011, pp. 257-269. In German.

Jørgensen, Anne-Kristin, 'Tendentsii v rossiyskom rybolovstve' ('Developments in Russian Fisheries'). EKO, No 5, 2010, pp. 58-75. In Russian.

Hønneland, Geir, 'En bauta i samarbeidet' ('A Giant in Norwegian-Russian Collaboration'), Nordlys, 9 December 2009. In Norwegian.

Jørgensen, Anne-Kristin, 'Recent Developments in the Russian Fisheries Sector'. In Wilson Rowe, Elana (ed), Russia and the North. Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, 2009, pp. 87-106.

Jørgensen, Anne-Kristin, 'Fiskerisamarbeid gir resultater' ('Norwegian-Russian Fishery Cooperation Yields Results'), Nordlys, 29 August 2009. In Norwegian.

Hønneland, Geir, 'Framtiden for fisken i Barentshavet – norsk-russisk politikk i kulissene' ('The Future of the Barents Sea Fish – Norwegian-Russian Politics behind the Scenes'). In P2-akademiet, Vol XXXX. Oslo, Transit, 2008, pp. 30-39. In Norwegian.

Hønneland, Geir, 'Fisheries Inspection and Enforcement - An Introduction'. In Skogrand, Kjetil (ed): Emerging from the Frost: Security in the 21st Century Arctic. Oslo Files on Defence and Security No 2, 2008, pp. 57-62.
 Related focal points of research:

   Law of the Sea and marine affairs
   Arctic and Russian politics

Project funding:

   The Research Council of Norway (Ocean and Coastal Areas Programme (HAVKYST))

 External cooperation partners:

   The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research
   The University of Tromsø, Faculty of Law

Related FNI document:

   Nordområdeforskning ved FNI ('FNI's Research on the High North'). Presentation brochure in Norwegian (PDF , 0.6 Mb)

 Recent relevant FNI News:

Making Fishery Agreements Work (17.02.2012)

 Recent media coverage:

'Skrev 825 sider om norsk-russisk samarbeid' ('Wrote 825 Pages on Norwegian-Russian Cooperation'), NRK, 15.02.2012. In Norwegian.

'Kompromiss-kultur berget torsken i Barentshavet' ('A Culture of Compromise Saved the Barents Sea Cod'), Norwegian Research Council News, 13.12.2010. In Norwegian.

'Tror på norsk-russisk samarbeid' ('Believes in Norwegian-Russian Cooperation'),, 7 October 2009. In Norwegian.

'Reform mulig for korrupte russiske fiskerier' ('Reform Possible for Corrupt Russian Fisheries'), NTB, 8 August 2009. In Norwegian.

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