Tense fisheries negotiations are ongoing between EU, UK and Norway

Tense bilateral and trialteral fisheries negotiations are ongoing between the UK, Norway and the EU

Tennse fisheries negotiations are ongoing between the UK, Norway and the EU on reciprocal access to waters and the setting of quotas on shared stocks.

The negotiations which are being held remotely also include the Faroe Islands and there are rounds of trilateral and bilateral talks taking place.

In the trilateral talks between the UK, Norway and the EU, it is believed that the coastal states are close to agreeing TACs on shared stocks such as cod, whiting, haddock, saithe, plaice and North Sea herring but in the area of the bilateral negotiations it is taking longer to come to agreements.

These talks are the first to involve the UK, who is now an independent coastal state, and have been taking place since the end of the Brexit transition period. Some representatives from the UK believe the EU are stalling the talks and trying to undermine the UK’s status as an independent coastal state, whereas the EU representatives would argue that because the dynamics of the traditional negotiations have changed with the introduction of the UK as s third party, it is taking time to adjust.

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Brian J McMullin Solicitors

The EU and the UK have already agreed their access over the next five-years, but the UK is wary that the EU is trying to bring them back into the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), with the UK insisting it has the right to determine the management of fishing in its own waters. This has become an issue in the negotiations that is causing increased friction between the former partners.

The EU and Norway have also been involved in a dispute over the EU setting and assigning quotas for themselves in the Norwegian controlled Svalbard zone, a protected zone, in the Arctic. Norway wants to reduce the EU’s TAC due to the fact that the UK is no longer a member state of the bloc.

This has resulted in a stand-off with the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen threatening legal action saying “Only Norway has the right to manage fisheries in the Svalbard fisheries protection area and Norway alone can allocate EU fishing quotas in the area.” 

The Norwegian government also considers the issue of quotas to be contrary to Norway’s sovereignty and international maritime law agreements. 

“We take this quota setting very seriously. I have made it clear to the European Union that all fishing in excess of Norwegian allocations will be considered illegal fishing and therefore enforced by the Norwegian Coast Guard,”says Ingebrigtsen.

Norway has issued quotas sin ce the fish protection zone was defined in 1977 to nations on the basis of ten years’ fishing experience. On that basis, the EU had been allocated 17,885 tonnes of cod quota by 2021 within the region. Following Britain’s exit from the EU, Britain’s fishing experience diminished from the criteria for EU allocation. 

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