The EU and Norway reached an agreement on fishing quotas after months of negotiations over EU waters aside from Ireland and North Sea waters in the Norwegian economic zone.
Announcing the deal, Norwegian Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran said: “I am satisfied that we have finally reached an agreement.
“It is of course important for us to get these agreements in place, and ideally I would have liked to have seen that we managed to reach the goal many weeks ago.
“At the same time, it has been important from the Norwegian side to ensure a balanced agreement, which safeguards Norwegian core interests in the long term.
“We have managed this with this agreement, and I am satisfied with the result for this year’s fishing.
“The negotiations with the EU have been ongoing since October last year, and countless hours have been spent in negotiation meetings in Oslo, Brussels and in video calls both at political and official level. Among the questions on which we stood far apart for a long time was Norwegian vessels’ access to fishing for cod in EU waters outside Ireland, and EU vessels’ access to fish in the Norwegian economic zone in the North Sea.
“There have been periods of hard work, but I am happy that the negotiations finally led to a good result.
“With the quota swap in place, Norwegian fishermen can start fishing on the quotas we have swapped for us such as prawns, blue halibut and redfish off Greenland, and pollock in the EU zone.
“In the exchange agreement, the EU has received a cod quota in the Barents Sea of 9,150 tonnes, says the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.”
The Brussels bloc and officials in Oslo also signed an agreement on the management of stocks in the Skagerrak and the protocol for the so-called neighbourhood agreement with Sweden, which gives some Swedish vessels access to fishing quotas such as cod, pollock, haddock, NVG herring and industrial fish in a limited part of the Norwegian economic zone.
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Back in December 2022, Norway also signed a deal with the UK ensuring “stability in the UK white fish fishing industry through continued access to all the waters for 2023”.
UK fisheries have been one of the most contentious topics during the Brexit negotiations.
Environment Minister Mark Spencer said in December that the UK has gained an extra 30,000 tonnes of fishing quota as a result of leaving the EU.
Speaking to the Commons, he said: “The UK’s fishing opportunities are negotiated in three main forums. Firstly, UK-EU bilateral. Today the UK reached an agreement with the EU on total allowable catches for 2023 on 69 stocks as well as arrangements for non quota stocks.
“This deal provides fishing opportunities for more than 140,000 tonnes for the UK fleet and is worth around £282 million based on historic landing prices. As part of this deal, we have agreed access arrangements on albacore tuna, on spurdog in the North Sea for the first time through the UK-EU written record.
“For non quota stocks, we have agreed a rollover of access arrangements for 2023 to ensure continued access to fish non quota stocks in the EU waters worth around £25 million per year to the UK fleet.”
He added: “As a result of the quota share uplifts agreed in the trade and cooperation agreement, the UK has around 30,000 tonnes more quota from these negotiations and it would have received if it were as it would… as a previous member of the EU.”