Disagreements over Cod quota off Svalbard has put a stop to EU-Norway negotiations

Norway and the EU clash over what they see is unacceptable behaviour by the EU in the fisheries protection zone around the Svalbard. By Bjoertvedt

“The EU’s quota setting in the fisheries protection zone off Svalbard is contrary to Norway’s sovereign rights under the law of the sea,” claims Minister of Fisheries and Seafood, Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen.

On Thursday, Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen met with EU Commissioner for Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius.

“Norway protests against the EU’s unilateral quota setting in the fisheries protection zone off Svalbard. This is completely unacceptable behaviour by the EU. Norway has the exclusive right to regulate fishing in the fisheries protection zone off Svalbard, and only Norway can allocate EU fishing quotas in the area,” says Ingebrigtsen.

“For 2021, the EU has allocated itself a quota of 28,431 tonnes of cod in the fisheries protection zone. This is contrary to Norway’s sovereign rights under the law of the sea, and we take the EU’s unilateral quota setting very seriously. I have therefore made it clear to the EU that any fishing beyond Norway’s quota allocations will be an illegal fishery and will be enforced by the Coast Guard in the usual way,” says the Minister of Fisheries and Seafood.

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New quota after Brexit

Ever since the establishment of the zone, Norway has allocated quotas to third countries that fished in the area before the zone was established, so that they can continue their historic fishing. These quotas have been based on fishing in the ten-year period before the establishment of the zone. Based on this proven distribution key, Norway has for 2021 allocated the EU a cod quota in the fisheries protection zone of 17,885 tonnes. As a result of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, the United Kingdom’s historic fishing can no longer form the basis for a quota to the EU, and the United Kingdom’s historic fishing was therefore deducted when the EU quota was to be calculated.

The fish protection zone off Svalbard was established in 1977 and extends 200 nautical miles from the baseline off Svalbard. It is Norway that establishes fisheries regulations in this area, and the purpose of establishing the zone was first and foremost to achieve control of fishing in the area and prevent overfishing. This has been a very important contribution to the success of sustainable management of fish stocks.

Ordinary fisheries agreements with the EU and the UK

Negotiations are underway between Norway, the EU and the United Kingdom on fisheries agreements for 2021. These negotiations will determine the total quotas for shared stocks and the issues of access to each other’s zones and quota exchange. Commissioner Sinkevičius agreed that these negotiations must now be accelerated so that we can put agreements in place by 2021.

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Norway clash with EU over unacceptable behaviour in fisheries protection zone

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