Norwegian reaction to the UK fisheries negotiations
The Norwegian Minister for Fisheries and the country’s fisheries associations have been reacting to the breakdown in fisheries negotiations with the UK.
The Norwegian Government has said that they decided that it is time to put an end to the negotiations on a bilateral quota agreement for 2021.
The most important elements in such an agreement are mutual access to common stocks and the exchange of fishing quotas with each other says the Norwegians.
“Brexit has undoubtedly created a number of challenges for the Norwegian fishing industry. It has proved very difficult to reach an agreement with the United Kingdom on zone access and quota exchange for 2021. When it comes to mutual access to fish quotas in each other’s waters on stocks we share, the views were too far apart for us to reach an agreement now. Therefore, it was just as good to put an end to this year and end,” says Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen.
There has always been a good and close dialogue with the industry, which are the ones who are primarily affected by this, both on the land side and the fishing side.
“We have negotiated in a good and respectful tone and it is important to continue to develop our relationship in the fisheries area. Norway has had a firm stance throughout the negotiations in consultation with the industry. It is better not to reach an agreement if we do not return to the situation as it was before Brexit. But for 2021, the industry must adapt operations so that we do not have such access,” says Ingebrigtsen.
“In addition to a bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom, Norway has from New Year’s negotiated with the EU on fisheries agreements for 2021. On 16 March, an agreement was entered into on the management of the common stocks in the North Sea between Norway, the EU and the United Kingdom. In addition to the tripartite agreement, Norway and the EU have now entered into two-party agreements on the North Sea and Skagerrak, as well as the neighbourhood agreement on Sweden. Thus, Norway and the EU agree on access to fishing in each other’s zones and quota exchange. In other words, it is a bilateral fisheries agreement for 2021 with the United Kingdom that we are now without.”
The lack of concessions on zone access came as a bit of a surprise – Norwegian Pelagic Association
“The negotiations have dragged on, and although the outcome did not come as a surprise, this result is still very unfortunate,” says Lena Brungot who has participated in the negotiations.
“The consequence will be that the Norwegian fleet this year will not be allowed to fish in the UK’s waters, and we are particularly concerned that it will be tough for our members to take this year’s quotas for North Sea herring and mackerel,” she continues.
The Norwegian Pelagic Association claim that throughout the process, Norway’s position has been to try to stabilize the agreement situation and continue the conditions contained in the agreements prior to Brexit. However, new demands from the UK for Norway to issue a quota to be allowed to fish in their waters did not make the negotiations any easier.
“The lack of concessions on zone access came as a bit of a surprise to us,” says Brungot. “The pelagic populations are characterised by migration, and if one does not have a sufficient overall and long-term perspective on this issue, it will backfire on a later occasion.”
Good zone access agreements help to optimize fishing both in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of fry fishing and improved quality of the raw material that is landed. These are factors that contribute to increased profitability, at the same time as fishing is carried out in a more sustainable way.
“For us, it appears to be a win-win situation for both parties if one reaches an agreement, and it is therefore difficult to understand the motive behind the new requirements that torpedoed the agreement,” Lena Brungot concludes.
Britain is shooting itself in the foot – Fiskebat
“It was necessary to clarify the negotiating situation, so that the fishing fleet could clarify the framework conditions for the rest of 2021. We had hoped for good cooperation with the UK on the management and exercise of common fishing resources, but note that it was not possible,” says Audun Maråk, Administrative Director of Fiskebat.
“The United Kingdom expected Norway to accept an agreement with significantly worse framework conditions for Norwegian fisheries than we had before Brexit. This applied to both a reduced trade balance on whitefish and pelagic, and reduced zone access. The longline fleet’s long-term fishing for ling and tusk in British waters is history to date, which releases Norwegian Arctic cod that has been used as a prey. For pelagic, the lack of zone access to British waters is unfortunate regarding fishing for mackerel and North Sea herring. Mutual zone access was an important factor in reaching agreement on the distribution of the mackerel stock,” says Maråk.