Norwegian waters could be off-limits for both EU and UK fishing vessels from 1st January, as Norway’s efforts to get the EU and UK to negotiate have so far come to nothing.
‘If we do not have agreements in place by 1st January, we will not open Norway’s economic zone for fishermen from the EU and the UK – nor can we expect Norwegian fishermen to have access to their zones. That is why I now urge the EU and the UK to come to the negotiating table,’ said Norway’s Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen.
This state of affairs arises following forty years of co-operation between Norway and the European Union, which could have been expected to morph into a three-way co-operation between Norway, the EU and brand-new coastal state the UK from the end of this year.
Norway has framework agreements on fisheries co-operation with both the EU (going back to 1980) and the United Kingdom (reached earlier this year), but such framework agreements do not extend to specific issues such as zone access and quota exchange. These must be agreed annually with both the EU and the UK.
So far the usual negotiations to decide on quotas for the common stocks in the North Sea have yet to begin – with both the EU and the UK sunk in ongoing Brexit negotiations, in which fisheries are also an issue.
‘The Norwegian authorities are clear that we must have co-operation in place that includes all three parties. We want a long-term, sustainable administration in collaboration with our closest neighbours,’ Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen said, commenting that North Sea stocks move between Norwegian, British and EU waters – hence Norway’s preference for all three parties to meet for negotiations on the management of divided stocks.
‘Norway is ready to start negotiations, so that we can agree on total quotas for our common stocks in the North Sea. Our goal is that the fisheries can continue as normal, but we need clarification soon,’ Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen said, commenting that until the parties have agreed quotas, Norway will set national quotas in line with ICES advice.
EU and UK vessels will not have access to Norwegian waters. Norwegian vessels will not have access to UK or EU waters.
The same principle will apply to the bilateral Skagerrak agreement between Norway and the EU on mutual access for Danish, Norwegian and Swedish vessels from 4 nautical miles in the Skagerrak.