FAO Fisheries Department

Fridtjof Nansen’s birthday celebration seminar



To mark the 150th birthday of Fridtjof Nansen -- celebrated Norwegian explorer, oceanographer, diplomat, national hero, institution builder, neurobiologist and marine biologist -- the EAF-Nansen Project meeting kicked-off with a seminar on The legacy of Nansen in marine research; relevance to development cooperation in fisheries.

The EAF-Nansen Project is a partnership between the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), FAO and the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) of Norway. The R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen, the flagship of the EAF-Nansen project, was named after Nansen. The meeting was held in Oslo, Norway from 13 to 15 October 2011.

Opening the seminar after a brief welcome note by Ms. Villa Kulild, Director General of Norad, Ms. Ingrid Fiskaa, State Secretary, Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that the Norwegian government envisages that the EAF-Nansen Project will continue to contribute to responsible resource management for many years. Four presentations followed:

Fridtjof Nansen as marine biologist and physical oceanographer: Is he still a source of inspiration? by Olav Sigurd Kjesbu of IMR, looked at the various aspects of the life of Fridtjof Nansen. He said that Nansen was, first of all, a unique research scientist, a “general specialist” regarded as one of the co-founders of the modern view of the nervous system and a pioneer in bridging physical oceanography and marine biology.

The development of international marine research, with focus on the research on fish populations and fisheries management, presented by Poul Degnbol of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), remarked that after contributing to marine science through his own efforts, Nansen was instrumental in building national and international marine science and was key to establishing international cooperation in marine research. He concluded that “research (and common sense) in recent decades has demonstrated that it is failing institutions rather than failing science which has prevented fisheries management from delivering sustainable fisheries and gain legitimacy”.

Global climate change and regional impacts on marine ecosystems, delivered by the IMR’s Svein Sundby, stated that long-term natural climate variability masks the effects and predictability of anthropogenic climate change. He pointed out that unlike climate change whose impact on marine ecosystems depends on critical physical and biological mechanisms, ocean acidification is rather the “dark horse” impacting negatively and uniformly across all marine ecosystems.

Finally Kwame Koranteng, Coordinator of the EAF-Nansen Project, wrapped up with a talk on The modern relevance of Fridtjof Nansen’s values and ideals: Past, present and future role of the Nansen Programme in fisheries and development. He considered Nansen’s achievements an inspiration for international development and cooperation, including the concept of the Nansen Programme, and its contribution to fisheries management in developing countries. In closing, he asked whether the Programme has lived up to the Nansen spirit and adhered to his values as an adventurer, explorer and humanitarian, and also responded to the call to support scientifically weak nations in the area of fisheries management.

EAF-Nansen Project