Norway rejects Irish industry's claim of whiting quota-grab

Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries State Secretary Vidar Ulriksen.

Irish fishing representatives are demanding that the European Union refuse Norway’s request for greater access to Irish quota for blue whiting.

Irish fishery industry bodies claim Norway is pushing the E.U. to increase a transfer of quota by 158 percent to 80,000 metric tons. Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association CEO Brendan Byrne termed the fish a valuable export-oriented species “concentrated in Irish waters.”

“Most of this will be caught in our waters,” Byrne said. “[The Norwegians] have enormous quotas but want additional access to Irish waters to catch this valuable stock.”

Irish Fish Producers Organisation CEO Aodh O’Donnell claimed the E.U. has not demanded Norway offer Irish fishermen reciprocal access to its seas.

“[The E.U.] already threw Ireland under the bus when it came to quota cuts after Brexit,” he said. “The fishing and seafood sector is appealing to the [Irish] Minister for the Marine to ensure that the E.U. blocks Norway, a non-E.U. member, from gaining unilateral access to our blue whiting grounds.”

Ireland was forced to give 40 percent of the quota ceded by the E.U. to Britain after Brexit, O’Donnell said.

“It’s time to ask serious questions about the E.U.’s attitude to Ireland and our fishing industry,” he added.

Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries State Secretary Vidar Ulriksen confirmed Norway’s interest in fishing for blue whiting in Irish waters – in exchange for total allowable catch (TAC) for cod in its waters.

“Norway is legally obliged to offer the E.U. 4.14 percent of the TAC for Northeast Arctic cod each year. If accepting the offer, the E.U. needs to compensate Norway with other comparable fishing opportunities,” Ulrkisen told SeafoodSource. “Traditionally, blue whiting has been part of this quota exchange. It is entirely up to the E.U. whether they accept the cod quota or not. The problem seen from the point of the Irish fishermen is presumably that they give away blue whiting, but the cod quota is allocated to other E.U. members. That is, however, an internal E.U. policy, and Norway is not involved in these decisions.”

Patrick Murphy of the Irish South and West Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO) said he is calling on the Minister to “make it clear that there will be no agreement without reciprocity.”

“Norway’s quotas are nine times ours and the fish are mainly distributed in our waters. So there is no justice in allocating them more rights to fish in [Irish waters],” he said.

Norway’s approach to the E.U. rather than to Ireland directly “speaks volumes, based on the track record of E.U. treatment of the Irish fishing industry,” O’Donnell said.

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries


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