Friday, 30 April 2021

Failed fishing talks with Norway - views from Shetland fishermen and Norwegian media.


Norway Negotiations collapse:

The fisheries negotiations between Norway and the United Kingdom collapsed without reaching a bilateral fisheries agreement for 2021.

  • "The UK has tried to send the bill for the Brexit agreement to Norwegian fishermen. We had hoped that Norway and the UK would become close allies in the management of joint fishing resources", says CEO Audun Maråk of the association Fiskebåt in a comment on the failed negotiations.

Maråk believes that Norway has gone to great lengths to find solutions, while the UK has faced locked positions with regard to, among other things, mutual zone access.

  • "Unfortunately, this will lead to an escalation of the level of conflict associated with the management of fishery resources in our sea areas. The UK will be left as one of the losers", says Maråk.

And adds:

  • Norway has in a meeting with its British colleagues agreed that it is time to put an end to the negotiations on a bilateral quota agreement for 2021. The most important elements in such an agreement are mutual access to common stocks and exchange of fishing quotas with each other.

Too far apart:

"Brexit has undoubtedly created a number of challenges for the Norwegian fishing industry. It has proved very difficult to reach an agreement with the United Kingdom on zone access and quota exchange for 2021", says Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen in a press release.

When it comes to mutual access to fish quotas in each other's waters on stocks Norway shares with the United Kingdom, the views were too far apart, Ingebrigtsen states.

"Therefore, it was just as good to draw a line for this year and finish" he says.

Good tone:

There has always been a good and close dialogue with the industry, which are the ones who are primarily affected by this, both on the land side and the fishing side.

  • "We have negotiated in a good and respectful tone and it is important to continue to develop our relationship in the fisheries area. Norway has had a firm stance throughout the negotiations in consultation with the industry. It is better not to make an agreement if we do not return to the situation as it was before Brexit. But for 2021, the industry must adapt operations so that we do not have such access" says Ingebrigtsen.

Other agreements In addition to a bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom, Norway has been negotiating with the EU on fisheries agreements for 2021 since the New Year.

On 16 March, an agreement was reached on the management of the common stocks in the North Sea between Norway, the EU and the United Kingdom. In addition to the tripartite agreement, Norway and the EU have now entered into two-party agreements on the North Sea and Skagerrak as well as the neighborhood agreement on Sweden.

Thus, Norway and the EU agree on access to fishing in each other's zones and quota exchange. In other words, it is a bilateral fisheries agreement for 2021 with the United Kingdom that we are now without.

Sorry result:

The Pelagic Association was the first to respond to the broken negotiations:

  • The negotiations have dragged on, and although the outcome did not come as a surprise, this result is still very unfortunate, says Lena Brungot who has participated in the negotiations.
  • The consequence will be that the Norwegian fleet this year will not be allowed to fish in the UK's waters, and we are particularly concerned that it will be tough for our members to take this year's quotas for North Sea herring and mackerel, she continues.

This year is the first year that the UK participates in negotiations as an independent coastal state, and the negotiations have revolved around issues such as quota exchange, zone access and other bilateral issues between the parties.

Throughout the process, Norway's position has been to try to stabilize the agreement situation and continue the conditions contained in the agreements prior to Brexit. However, new demands from the UK for Norway to issue a quota to be allowed to fish in their waters did not make the negotiations any easier.

Zone access surprised:

  • "The lack of concessions on zone access came as a bit of a surprise to us, says Brungot. "The pelagic populations are characterized by migration, and if one does not have a sufficient overall and long-term perspective on this issue, it will backfire on a later occasion."

Good zone access agreements help to optimize fishing both in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of fry fishing and improved quality of the raw material that is landed. These are factors that contribute to increased profitability, at the same time as fishing is carried out in a more sustainable way.

  • "For us, it appears to be a win-win situation for both parties if one reaches an agreement, and it is therefore difficult to understand the motive behind the new requirements that torpedoed the agreement", Lena Brungot concludes.

The Pelagic Association is in dialogue with the administration and the industry, and will in the future work to ensure that this year's fisheries can be carried out in the best possible way.

The same story from this side of the North Sea:

The Shetland Fishermen’s Association has released a statement in reaction to the failed fisheries deal with Norway.

Fishermen in Shetland today welcomed the Scottish and UK negotiating team’s refusal to renew past access and quota transfer agreements with Norway.

These, they pointed out, 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.

“Since the announcement that there will be no deal, we have had predictable squealing from that one company. This in no way reflects the mood of the Scottish family-owned fleet.

“In practical terms, Norway’s loss of access to our waters this year will remove a substantial presence of their pelagic fleet during the autumn mackerel fishery in particular.”

SFA chairman and whitefish skipper James Anderson added that the inability of Norwegian vessels to fish for demersal stocks in the UK zone would lift the pressure of a highly active gillnet and longliner fleet to the east of Shetland.

DMT Marine Equipment The Fishing Daily Fishing Industry News Brian J McMullin Solicitors “We are convinced that mutually advantageous annual agreements on access and quota transfers can be struck with Norway in the future. But Norway has to understand that we are not going to cave in, Commission-style, to the detriment of Scottish businesses. It is far better to make that clear at the outset, and we are glad that this has been done.

“We appreciate the efforts of the highly influential Scottish negotiators, who worked closely with industry and listened carefully to our concerns throughout four months of very difficult talks.”