EU, Norway, and UK conclude North Sea fishing arrangements

Published on
March 18, 2021

The first trilateral fishing quota talks between the E.U., Norway, and the United Kingdom have concluded with the agreement on jointly managed North Sea stocks for 2021 covering more than 636,000 metric tons (MT) of fish.

Following the U.K.’s departure from the E.U., the three parties met for the first time in a trilateral format in January 2021 to agree on the management of key shared stocks in the North Sea.

After two months of negotiations, the three parties signed an agreement allowing for the joint management of the cod, haddock, saithe, whiting, plaice, and herring stocks. The agreement on quotas for five of these six stocks have been set at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels, in line with the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

The new total allowable catches (TAC) agreed upon have seen the saithe, plaice, and herring quotas reduced by 25 percent, 2.3 percent, and 7.4 percent, respectively, while the haddock and whiting stocks have been raised by 20 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

With regards to the North Sea, Skagerrak, and Eastern Channel cod stocks, the E.U. had advocated for a TAC decrease of 16.5 percent for 2021, but the negotiations resulted in a 10 percent decrease to a TAC of 15,911 MT.

The parties also agreed to continue implementing a range of additional measures, to protect adult and juvenile cod, such as area closures. They also agreed to trilaterally cooperate on monitoring, control, and surveillance.

The E.U. and Norway also signed three bilateral agreements relating to the quota exchanges and reciprocal access in the North Sea, with a renewal of the reciprocal access arrangement for the jointly managed stocks in the North Sea.

In addition, they agreed that for pelagic stocks the E.U. will have access to catch its quota of Norwegian spring spawning herring in Norwegian waters, while in the case of blue whiting, there will be reciprocal access to waters of the other party to catch up to 141,648 MT.

Another part of this arrangement covers quota exchanges of major economic interest to both sides, including 10,274 MT of Arctic cod for the E.U. and 37,500 MT of blue whiting for Norway.

The second bilateral arrangement relates to the setting of TACs and quota sharing for Skagerrak and Kattegat for cod, haddock, whiting, plaice, pandalus, herring, and sprat, as well as the bilateral reciprocal access in the area.

Finally, the parties also signed the neighboring arrangement covering the Swedish fishery in Norwegian waters of the North Sea.

The agreements will enable the restart of the E.U.'s fishing operations in Norwegian waters, and vice-versa, both of which have been partially discontinued since 31 December, 2020.

Photo courtesy of Conny Pokorny/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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