Ocean Fishing In Norway: Fishing In The Fjords or the Sea

Norway is a great destination for angling, and you can freely fish in the Norwegian sea or fjords for yourself without buying fishing permits or having to have to deal with a guide.

Anyone is free to fish in saltwater sources as part of the freedom to roam laws, even foreigners and tourists. You can catch as many fish as you want as long as they are not protected species, and are caught using handheld tackle (like a fishing pole).

That said, there are some rules and regulations that you must adhere to when you are ocean fishing in Norway. So, let’s take a close look at what ocean fishing in Norway is like, what rules you must follow, and how you can make it a smooth and nice experience.

Fisherman in a boat
Fisherman in a boat fishing in the ocean. Photo published with permission.

You are free to fish anywhere in the Norwegian ocean!

You do not need to pay for any fishing permits to fish in the ocean, fjords, or sea in Norway. Anyone is free to fish in the ocean, even foreigners and tourists. This applies to anywhere where there is saltwater, and you are free to go anywhere along the coastline to go fishing.

The fjords are considered a part of the ocean, so it’s absolutely possible to go fishing in the fjords. The fjord water is a bit different from real saltwater, and the fish species you find there often vary from the ones found in the ocean, but it’s still a great place to go fishing.

The only big exception is that you need to be at least 100 meters away from any commercial fisheries or fish farms. These are huge nets like on the photo below that are used for salmon farming, so make sure not to get close to any of these.

A small salmon fishery
A small salmon fishery outside of Trondheim. Photo by Trondheim Havn / CC BY-SA 2.0.

It’s worth being aware that there is a national fishing fee in Norway, but are not supposed to pay this when fishing in the ocean in Norway, so don’t worry about it.

This fee is only for those using mounted fishing equipment, which is by itself illegal for non-residents, so you don’t need to worry about this when ocean fishing with a fishing pole in Norway.

You do however need to pay the national fishing fee is you are salmon fishing in a freshwater lake or river in Norway. You will also need to buy fishing permits for any freshwater fishing, so make sure to read up on those topics if you decide to stray away from the ocean.

That said, let’s return back to the ocean and saltwater fishing again!

Rules and regulations to be aware of when ocean fishing in Norway

Some of the common rules and regulations to be aware of when ocean fishing in Norway are:

  • You are not allowed to sell fish you catch as a tourist. This does not apply to people with Norwegian citizenship.
  • You must only use handheld equipment, not any type of mounted or loose equipment.
  • You are generally only allowed to export your fish out of the country if you are part of an organized fish camp.
  • You are not allowed to fish cod in the Oslofjord.
  • Make sure to read up on fish minimum length requirement. We get back to that later in this article.
  • Do not harvest and protected fish species. Again, we will look closer at these down below.
Fishing at the ocean shore
A man fishing in the ocean. Photo published with permission.

Different types of ocean fishing you can try in Norway

The ocean is big with lots of different fishing opportunities. As you can imagine, there are many different species of fish, some found close to shore, some are only in the fjords, and others are deep down in the sea far away from the shore. Let’s look at some of the different ocean fishing options you have when coming to Norway to fish!

Fishing from the shore at the sea or in the fjords

If you just want to catch some fish while visiting Norway for a holiday, going to the shore or to a fjord with a fishing pole is a great option. This is a great recreational activity, and you can do it completely for free. Just find a suitable spot and enjoy your fishing!

The freedom to roam principle applies when it comes to fishing in the ocean. This means that you must fish in what we call “utmark.

The short summary is that you can fish if you are a bit away from cabins, buildings or houses. You are not allowed to fish from piers if you don’t have permission (since these are privately owned). The exception is if the pier is owned by the municipality or state, and luckily most private piers will have signs telling you not to use it.

It’s also very easy to find suitable areas to fish from that are not build on, especially once you get outside of Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim.

If you’re renting a car, drive along the fjords or the coast to look for a nice spot where you can be all by yourself. Since you are allowed to fish anywhere, just driving and looking for an interesting spot is always an option that often lead to amazing fishing experiences.

Hamnøy in Lofoten
Hamnøy in Lofoten. Photo published with permission.

Fishing from a small boat

If you want to try getting bigger fish than you can from the shore, going out on a small boat to try your fishing luck might be worth it. It’s often possible to rent small boats that can be used for fishing, or pay to attend a small boat fishing group. You will typically travel a few hundred meters from the shore in smaller boats, and can find bigger fish here compared to closer to shore.

Some prefer to rent the boat to use it for themselves, while others want to also rent the owner to drive it. The choice is yours, but be aware that you need a boating license to operate boats that are over 8 meters in length or have an engine with more than 25 horsepower / 19 kW.

A small fishing boat outside Oslo
A small fishing vessel in Oslofjorden. Photo published with permission.

Deep sea angling

It’s possible to go deep sea fishing in Norway, and this is also part of the freedom to roam. To go deep sea fishing, you need to be on a bigger boat, and most fjord towns have at least one company that are selling deep sea angling spots to tourists who want to go fishing.

Just remember that you are not allowed to use mounted fishing poles when deep sea fishing, in contrast to what you typically do when deep sea fishing in other parts of the world.

You will find it easiest to go on a deep sea fishing expedition far north in Norway where there’s a bigger fishing culture than in the southern part of the country.

Protected fish species in Norway

There are certain fish species that are protected from being caught and harvested in Norway, so if you get any of these on your hook, you need to release them back in the ocean as soon as possible.

The completely protected species are:

  • Spiny dogfish.
  • Basking shark.
  • Porbeagle.
  • Blue ling.
  • Lobster.
  • Bluefin tuna.
  • Silk shark.
  • Eel.
  • Wrasse.
  • Cod (only in the Oslofjord).

In addition, certain fish species are protected for parts of the year. These are:

  • Halibut.
  • Lumpfish.
  • Redfish.
  • Cod.

The exact date varies a bit by region, so check out the local regulations if you are fishing for these fish species when ocean fishing in Norway.

You should release all protected fish back into the ocean as soon as possible with as little as possible harm to the fish. Release it back in the same habitat you caught it if possible.

Spiny dogfish
Spiny dogfish is a protected fish species, and also one of the sharks found in Norway. Photo published with permission.

Minimum size requirements for ocean fish

Many fish species have a minimum size requirement to them, and you are not allowed to harvest them if they are below the minimum size. So if you catch one of these small fishes, release them back to the ocean with as little damage to them as possible so that they can grow bigger.

The list for minimum sizes is pretty big, depends on the region you are fishing in, and changes from time to time, so I’m not going to post it here. Instead, check out the updated list at Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries’s website here. They will always have the up-to-date version of the minimum size requirements for each fish species at all times.

Maximum size requirement

There are generally very few maximum size requirements for ocean fish in Norway, except for a single one. All halibut that are over 2 meters in length need to be released back to the ocean. This applies to both alive and dead halibut.

The reason does not have to do with wildlife management at all, but rather with the fact that halibuts of this size will have a potentially dangerous amount of contaminants in its body. It will gradually get more contaminants in its body the longer it lives, and it’s considered to be dangerous to humans to eat it after it has reached 2 meters.

So for this reason it has been made illegal to fish halibut over 2 meters in length.

PS. while this might seem like a hassle, be aware that it’s very rare to fish halibut that are over 2 meters in length. For reference, a 2 meter long halibut will weight around 100 kg! So this rule mostly applies to commercial fishermen who can actually reel in fish this big with mounted equipment.

You must release all halibut that are over 2 meters in length. Photo published with permission.

Frequently asked questions about ocean fishing in Norway

Is it really completely free to fish in the ocean in Norway?

Yes, the freedom to harvest fish from the ocean is part of the freedom to roam principle, so you can come to Norway to fish in the ocean completely for free.

When is the fishing season in Norway?

Most people who are coming to Norway to fish do so in the summer months, but there are fish in the ocean all year long. The ocean does not freeze despite it being freezing in the air, so you can fish at any time of the year if you want to. That said, many people stay away from fishing in the winter due to the short days and cold weather.

Can you sell the fish you catch?

Foreigners without permanent residency or citizenship or tourists are not allowed to sell the fish they catch. You can harvest it for yourself, but not sell it. You are allowed to give away the fish, export it (in some cases) for yourself, or cook it and serve it for dinner.

Is there a limit to the number of fish you can catch?

You are allowed to catch and harvest as many fish as you want, and there is no limit to the number or total weight of the fish harvested. That said, people are encouraged to not harvest more than they need.

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