As EU-Norway fisheries talks resume in Brussels tomorrow Irish fishing remains adamant over access to blue whiting in Ireland's EEZ

As EU-Norway fisheries talks resume in Brussels tomorrow Irish fishing remains adamant over access to blue whiting in Ireland’s EEZ

Negotiations between the EU and Norway will resume tomorrow, Thursday 09 February, as both sides seek to hammer out a fisheries agreement for 2023. 

Round 5 of the talks between the two will be held over Thursday and Friday with Danish fishing representatives’ hopeful a deal can be reached by close of the week. Their boats have been locked out of traditional fishing grounds in Norwegian waters since 01 January 2023 because Norway will not settle on granting access to the EU Member State. 

Amongst the unresolved issues from the last round of negotiations there are issues relating to access to the Svalbard Zone for EU Member States to catch cod, a balancing proposal for capelin exchange, the Norwegian prohibition on beam trawling which mainly effects Dutch and Belgian fisheries and collector bag issues for shrimp trawling. 

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The big issue for Irish fishing in this round of talks is Norwegian access to the Irish EEZ to fish blue whiting. This is a case of great concern for the Irish, and this is being highlighted by the presence of the IFPO, IS&WFPO, the IFPEA and the KFO, who are all sending their chief representatives to Brussels tomorrow where the negotiations are being held. 

Speaking to The Fishing Daily today, Aodh O’Donnell of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation said that the talks are at a grave junction. He said: 

“We’re travelling to the fifth round of the EU-Norway negotiations to be held on Thursday and Friday of this week. 

“We will be there to press the case for meaningful reciprocation in relation to the access request by Norway as the third country to get to fish blue whiting in the Irish box. 

“We have we have been consistent in our requests that this issue is addressed, and that due account is taken of the value of this resource. 

“We hope that some form of meaningful and fair reciprocation is put in place for Irish fishermen. 

“We have a very strong belief in the Commission, and they are fully briefed in relation to this matter. They seem to have a strong understanding for the Irish position, and particularly in the context of the impacts that we’ve had previously in other Brexit related matters. 

“We must emphasise, this is a new and additional request for access to catch significant volumes of blue whiting in Irish waters, but it’s also important to recognise that the key negotiations will take place between the Commission’s negotiating team and the Norwegian representatives.” 

It has been reported that the Norwegians will table a set of proposals or options, but the extent of the compromise is said to be limited to zero. 

Asked if he thinks there is a possibility of an agreement being reached by close of the talks on Friday, Aodh says: 

“I think that depends to a large extent on the reasonableness of the Norwegians themselves and their people facing up to the reality that the access to the Irish box has got a significant value.”

by Oliver McBride 

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