Bjørnar Skaeran, Norway’s Fisheries and Seafood Minister flew to London earlier this week for talks with a senior UK trade minister.

He discussed a wide range of seafood and fishery related issues with Victoria Prentis, Minister of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

After a difficult start following Brexit, the two countries are now co-operating more closely on a wide range of fish related issues.

Last month’s figures for the Norwegian Seafood Council also show that Norwegian salmon exports to the UK are on the increase, partly as a result of reduced output from Scottish farms which have been experiencing biological issues.

One of most pressing topics raised was forthcoming border controls governing seafood following the announcement that the UK plans to introduce health certificates for seafood from the European Economic Area (EEA) of which Norway is a member.

Norwegian salmon and whitefish exporters fear this could lead to more red tape, higher costs and logistical challenges.

Skaeran said he was keen to reduce trade barriers with the UK so that seafood can pass through quickly and smoothly.

He was pleased that Victoria Prentis had agreed to officials from the two countries working together in an effort to reduce any extra administrative burden.

A number of deep sea fishing issues, including access to each other’s fishing grounds, were also discussed.

Both ministers said that while challenges remain, the meeting had been both constructive and useful in finding areas of co-operation.

Meanwhile, UK seafood exporters are concerned that the growing dispute between the UK and the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol could turn into a trade war. Legislation laid before the UK parliament earlier this week sets out to scrap controls on goods moving from mainland Britain into Northern Ireland, if they are not intended for sale in the Republic.

The EU argues this would mean reneging on the post-Brexit trade treaty. European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said the EU is set to take legal action if the legislation is brought into effect.

Victoria Prentis

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