Disagreements over Cod quota off Svalbard has put a stop to EU-Norway 2021 negotiations
While Danish fishermen are impatiently tripping on the quay to enter Norwegian waters in the North Sea and Skagerrak, the EU’s own quota setting for cod off Svalbard has created problems in the bilateral negotiations between the EU and Norway on fishing opportunities in 2021.
The negotiations were suspended last week almost before they started, and since then diplomats have worked actively to separate the discussion on Svalbard from the bilateral negotiations. Until the weekend, there were cautious positive signals, but it is not yet known when the negotiations will start again.
This is not the first time that disagreements over Svalbard have cast a shadow over co – operation between the EU and Norway – it has happened several times before. But it is deeply frustrating for Danish fishermen that such a conflict comes at a time when there are already plenty of problems and lack of clarification about the fishing opportunities for 2021 in the North Sea and Skagerrak.
“It is a completely unsatisfactory situation. We are waiting and waiting for an agreement on the fishing opportunities for 2021 and access to fishing in Norwegian waters. Everything is delayed as a result of the last-minute conclusion of the Brexit negotiations, and when one then thinks that something is finally going to happen, then Svalbard problems are used to put a dent in the wheel and delay the work on an agreement further,” says Svend-Erik Andersen, chairman of the Danish Fisheries Association.
The Danish Fisheries Association also refers to the fact that it was in connection with the EU quota setting for 2021 in December that the EU surprisingly set not only a temporary quota for EU fishermen for cod off Svalbard, but for the whole year. And then at a level of 28,431 tonnes, which was significantly higher than the 18,000 tonnes that Norway has subsequently “recommended” that the EU had at its disposal.
“It is clear to everyone that the EU’s quota setting for cod off Svalbard was not agreed with Norway, but it cannot be true that one does not make sure to resolve the conflict during the 6 weeks that have passed since the Council of Ministers decision in December. It is a really bad signal that you are sitting and putting up with a problem, and then only pull it out when the bilateral negotiations are finally underway. If it is to bother the EU’s fishing in the North Sea and Skagerrak as much as possible, then it is at least really bad style,” says Svend-Erik Andersen.