Sea fishing

cod lofoten
NB the information below is given as an indication only, the laws, regulations and bans on sea and freshwater fishing may be modified. There are therefore many local regulations that govern different types of fishing, particularly freshwater, where fishing permits are often necessary, including rivers and salmonid (salmon, trout, whitefish) fishing. If you have any doubts about the regulations, check with the local tourist office.

General information on sea fishing

Who can fish and with what tackle?

Only Norwegian nationals or foreign residents with a fixed address in Norway are authorised to used “fixed” fishing tackle in Norwegian territorial waters: nets, longlines, traps (baskets, etc.) and bottom line fishing.  
Non-resident foreigners may fish with “hand-held” tackle such as fishing rods or hand-held lines (for fishing from the stern of a moving boat) but are not allowed to sell their catch (summary of fishing law 1983-06-03 No. 40).

Quotas for recreational fishing (maximum authorised quantities)

It is prohibited to carry over 15 kg of fish per person across Norwegian borders. This applies to foreigners and Norwegians alike.

Minimum authorised sizes

Extract of the law on sea fishing, translated from Norwegian  (law 2004-12-22 - 1878 chapter 9). The full legislative text may be read (in Norwegian) by clicking here. Rando-Lofoten have added explanations where necessary (in blue).

Chapter IX. Minimum sizes and steps to limit the catching of fish below the minimum size

paragraph 43. Minimum sizes
It is prohibited to catch fish under the following sizes:

1.     Halibut 80 cm
2.     Cod  
    a)    North of 62° N   
    b)    South of 62° N 

44 cm
40 cm
3.     Haddock   
    a)    North of 62° N   
    b)    South of 62° N  

40 cm
31 cm
4.      Hake   30 cm
 5.     Plaice   
    a)    In the zone described in paragraph No. 3 1, 2 and 3 (except for the Skagerrak)  
    b)    In the Skagerrak described in paragraph 3 No. 4 (the Skagerrak)  

29 cm
27 cm
 6.     Witch flounder (RL : Glyptocephalus cynoglossus)     28 cm
 7.     Sole    23 cm
 8.     Lemon-sole    25 cm
 9.     Common sole    24 cm
 10.     Turbot     30 cm
 11.      Brill    30 cm
 12.      Megrim   25 cm
 13.      Whiting   32 cm 
 14.      Flounder    20 cm 

    a)    Before sexual maturity   
    b)    After sexual maturity  

40 cm
37 cm

    a)    North of 62° N   
    b)    South of 62° N

45 cm
40 cm
      c) Minimum size for fishing with a “not” type net (RL: the “not” in Norwegian is a net used to catch fish like in a creel (basket); fish do not get caught in the mesh as they do in standard nets). NB non-resident foreigners are prohibited from using fishing nets. We have not therefore considered it necessary to translate the relative section of the Act of Parliament. 
 17.      Dogfish   70 cm
 18.      Greenland halibut   45 cm
 19.      Monkfish (RL: caught with a net, so non-resident foreigners are not allowed to catch them)   60 cm

     Golden redfish   
    a)    Beyond 12 nautical miles of the coast    
    b)    Within 12 miles of the coast

30 cm
32 cm
 21.     Mackerel   30 cm


    Herring fished in the zone described in paragraph 3 No. 4 (the Skagerrak), except for fjord herring within 2 nautical miles of the coast.  

18 cm
 23.      Atlantic herring  20 cm
 24.      Norwegian herring spawning in the spring    25 cm
 25.      Herring in Trondheim Fjord   23 cm

    a)    North of 62° N   
    b)    In the fishing zone near Jan Mayen (RL: Norwegian island)  

11 cm
12 cm
 27.      Shrimp   6 cm
 28.      Dublin Bay prawn   13 cm
 29.      Crab   13 cm
30.      Crab along the coast of Rogaland towards Sweden   11 cm
31.      Iceland scallop in Nordland, Troms and places in Finnmark  6,5 cm
32.      Lobster   25 cm
33.      King crab in East-Finnmark, controlled by quotas   13 cm
34.       Scallops   10 cm
35.      Wrasse  11 cm
36.     Sand eels   10 cm
37.     Sprat within 4 nautical miles of the coast    9 cm


paragraph 44. How to measure fish

  • Fish are measured from the tip of the upper jaw to the end of the shortest caudal ray. (RL: you measure the length to the fork in the tail)

mesurer le poisson en Norvège

  • Dogfish are measured from the tip of the upper jaw to the to the end of the upper tail fin.
  • Lobster and Dublin Bay prawns are measured from the rostrum to the end of the tail. 
  • Shrimp are measured from the front of the eye to the back of the tail.
  • Crabs are measured along the widest section of the shell.
  • Iceland scallops are measured along the length (from the hinge to the other end).
  • Scallops are measured along the longest section of the shell.
  • King crabs are measured from lowest part of the eye socket to the hollow in the middle of the shell.

Freshwater fishing

salmo trutta norway

NB the information below is given for information only, the laws, regulations and bans on sea and freshwater fishing may be modified. There are therefore many local regulations that govern different types of fishing, particularly freshwater, where fishing permits are often necessary including rivers and salmonid (salmon, trout, whitefish) fishing. If you have any doubts about regulations, check with the local tourist office.

General information on freshwater fishing

Freshwater fishing is governed by the Act of Parliament dated 15 May 1992 in Norway and applies to salmonids and all other freshwater fish. Some of the following information comes from the official Norwegian site which summarises most of what you need to know about freshwater fishing.

Who is entitled to fish in freshwater?

In freshwater, owners are entitled to fish as far as the boundaries of their property. Anyone can fish outside private property.
Fishing rights can be granted to private individuals or organisations or made available through fishing permits.

On land belonging to the State and in the region of Finnmark the State owns the fishing rights and grants them to the general public. Anyone over the age of 16 who wants to fish salmonids or freshwater fish must pay a fishing fee to the Statens Fiskefond (State fishing foundation).

Provisions for the general protection of salmonids

The 1992 Act of Parliament makes a clear distinction between fishing anadromous (fish that ascend rivers from the sea to breed) salmonids (salmon, sea trout and arctic char) and other freshwater fish (including eels and crayfish). The Act of Parliament prohibits the fishing of freshwater fish (which is less restrictive than that of salmonids) in rivers where there are anadromous salmonids, unless the law stipulates otherwise (waiver). In rivers, it is only permitted to fish for anadromous salmonids with a rod or line and only in rivers or sections of river clearly defined by the local authorities  (regulation dated 20 June 2003).

What  you need to know about salmonid fishing

  • Only fishing with a rod or line (handheld) is authorised. Only the following baits are authorised: worms, flies, trolling spoons, wobblers and spinners
  • You need to find out the times of year when fishing is authorised and whether specific rules apply to each river.
  • The fishing season begins on most rivers on 15 June (sometimes later) because the salmon population is much smaller. In rivers where there are more salmon the fishing season may, however, begin earlier.
  • You need to buy a fishing permit or be given fishing authorisation by the owner.
  • There are regulatory sizes for hooks (single hook: 15mm gape between the hook shank and point, for triple hooks: 13mm max.)
  • A fishing fee must be paid when fishing for salmon, sea trout and arctic char

Provisions for the general protection of “other” freshwater fish

Even though there are no general regulations for freshwater fish, the local authorities may take decisions that apply to certain places, rivers or other areas (e.g. a ban on fishing for up to 5 years, determine the authorised fishing tackle, authorise the closure of certain rivers to eel fishing, etc.).

What  you need to know about freshwater fishing (other than salmonids)

  • It is prohibited to use poison, explosives, electric current or firearms, or artificial light (except for crayfish). Other than these bans there are no general rules on fishing tackle or the fishing season, except for crayfish and freshwater mussels. On the other hand there are often local rules. You should check them out before you start fishing.
  • You need to buy a fishing permit or be given fishing authorisation by the owner.

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