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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Norway

Norway’s constitution contains provisions for the protection of the environment. Article 112, for example, states:

“Every person has a right to an environment that is conducive to health and to natural surroundings whose productivity and diversity are preserved. Natural resources should be made use of on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations whereby this right will be safeguarded for future generations as well. In order to safeguard their right in accordance with the foregoing paragraph, citizens are entitled to be informed of the state of the natural environment and of the effects of any encroachments on nature that are planned or commenced. The State authorities shall issue further provisions for the implementation of these principles.”

Featured Legislation

1970: Act No. 63 (Nature Conservation Act) was authorized to make provisions for the protection of nature by: (1) prescribing a valuation of major works, construction and other activity which will entail substantial change to the landscape or substantial damage to the natural environment before such work is begun by the appropriate authorities. The legislation also oversees the establishment of national parks, nature reserves and natural monuments, providing for the protection of fauna and flora.

1983: The Act to regulate the catching of whales was adopted. The Act applies to the bringing on land of whales in the Norwegian sea territory and to catching of whales by Norwegian citizens, residents, companies, associations, etc., also outside Norwegian borders (sect. 1). No catching of whales may take place without a permit of the Department of Fisheries. Offenses shall be punished with imprisonment up to one year or a fine up to 1 million crones. Assistance to illegal catching or attempt is also considered an offence. (3 sections)

1999: Act No. 15 (Participation Act) was enacted. The purpose of this Act is to regulate access to hunting of other marine animals so as to safeguard rational and sustainable use of living marine resources and to protect the fishing rights of the residents of coastal areas of Norway.

2001: The Svalbard Environmental Protection Act was created. The purpose of this Act is to preserve a virtually untouched environment in Svalbard with respect to continuous areas of wilderness, landscape, flora, fauna and cultural heritage.

2001: Regulation No. 1525 on protection of endangered species was prescribed, setting rules on the protection of certain endangered plant species. Species and subspecies of vascular plants (including seeds), cryptogams (mosses, lichens and fungi), algae and invertebrates in accordance with the attached list are protected against direct damage and destruction, recovery and other forms of direct pursuit. The Ministry of the Environment may revise the species list.

2008: The Marine Living Resources Act was signed.  This Act makes provision with respect to the management and conservation of marine living resources (defined in section 3) in the marine waters of Norway and related genetic material. The Act also provides for marine bioprospecting and provides rules relative to marine fishing and the allocation of fishing quotas. The principal responsibility for administration and control shall lie with the Fisheries Directorate.

2009: Decree No. 191 (to regulate fishing for tusk, ling and blue ling in the Economic Zone of Iceland) was brought into force. This Decree prohibits fishing for the fish species tusk, ling and blue ling by Norwegian vessels in the economic zone of Iceland. However, article 2 allows for a catch of 500 tons of such fish species south of the 64° parallel on the seaward side of 12 miles measured from the baseline. It also allows for a bycatch of halibut (5 percent), greenland halibut (10 percent), and trunk red fish (10 percent).

2009: Act No. 100, relating to the Management of Biological, Geological and Landscape Diversity (Nature Diversity Act) was formulated. This Act makes provision for the protection of biological, geological and landscape diversity and of ecosystems. The Act applies to Norwegian land territory, including river systems, and to Norwegian territorial waters. Chapter VII of the Act applies to Svalbard and Jan Mayen. Selected provisions of the Act apply to the EEZ and the continental shelf to the extent they are appropriate.

2014: Regulation No. 1551 on Norway pout fishing was passed, prohibiting  bycatch of Norwegian pout when fishing for other species.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • In 2018, The Norwegian Government announced a pledge of up to 15 million Euros to foster a partnership between INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the RHIPTO-Norwegian Center for Global Analysis to combat illegal deforestation. A report has revealed that reversing land degradation and tropical deforestation could provide up to 30 per cent of the climate change solution. Norwegian officials estimate that multiple opportunities for breaking the law throughout the whole deforestation value chain exist in Norway, resulting in other related crimes such as bribes, corruption, the issuance of fake licenses, illegal land conversion, and the illegal export of timber. Select companies, organized criminal groups and even cartels are evading Norway’s laws, driving climate change and the displacement of indigenous peoples living in the rainforests. Norway’s approach to tackling said crimes will be holistic, drawing upon enforcement efforts and capacity building among the UNODC, INTERPOL and RHIPTO-Norwegian Center for Global Analysis. For example, a new collaborative initiative, entitled “Law enforcement assistance programme to reduce tropical deforestation”(Programme LEAP), will support different law enforcement agencies in their joint efforts to crack down on illegal deforestation and associated crimes. Ola Elvestuen, the Norwegian Minister of climate and the environment, has declared that the detection of forestry crimes is a high priority because of its intersections with corruption, drug trafficking and cybercrime, especially. The three institutions will work together to share expertise, networks and efforts to support countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia, building national task forces to support the frontline enforcement, investigation, prosecution and necessary customs efforts to prevent deforestation. The RHIPTO-Norwegian Center for Global Analysis was recognized formally by the UN as a cross-IN-collaborating center which is poised to support information and analysis on environmental crime, offering a rapid response capacity to the UN. Institutionally, RHIPTO was formed in response to UN Security Council resolution 2195, which requests member states to strengthen information and analysis support to the UN.

References and Further Reading


Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment: Spokesperson, Snorre Tønset, mobile: +47 918 81 856. Email,