The UK has failed to secure a fishing deal with Norway with serious consequences for access and quota arrangements but a mixed reception from industry stakeholders.
Talks over a UK/Norway bilateral fisheries agreement for 2021 have been ongoing since January, but have now been abandoned following Norway’s rejection of a UK offer at a heads of delegation meeting on 29th April.
“This will mean that UK vessels will have no access to fish in Norwegian waters, north or south of 62o. Norwegian vessels will not be permitted to fish in UK waters. For the rest of 2021 It will also mean that quota exchanges will not take place,” said The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO).
Traditionally, Norway has been interested in mainly pelagic quota, whilst the UK has been interested in demersal species, both in the North East Arctic and for North Sea stocks.
SFA firm on access
While the NFFO highlighted the loss of loss of fishing opportunities and said it would meet with fisheries ministers to discuss the negotiations, the Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA), said the fishermen it represents welcomed the UK’s decision not to renew past access and quota transfer agreements with Norway as these had been brokered by the European Union and were heavily skewed against the local pelagic and demersal fleets.
Simon Collins, executive officer of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA), said: “This bring a long-awaited end to past practice in which the EU used to hand substantial amounts of Scottish quota to Norway largely to the benefit of a single foreign multinational that claimed to be English.”
The NFFO noted the failure to reach an agreement with Norway, together with the failure to secure an agreement with the Faroes will see vessels try to make a living in the constrained waters of the North Sea and West of Scotland. Negotiations for an agreement for 2022 are expected to begin in the Autumn, with post CFP adjustments part of the mix.
UK/EU negotiations for an agreement in 2021 have resumed and the EU is expected to respond to a UK final offer.