EU’s ‘cod war’ with Norway ramps up – Brussels issued ultimatum as UK poised to join fight

Brexit: Sandell hits out at 'disgraceful' lack of Norway deal

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Talks between Oslo, London and Brussels collapsed earlier this year with the industry warning that hundreds of crew members will be left out of work. This means UK and EU fleets have no access to Norway’s Arctic waters, with UK officials saying their “fair offer” had been rejected in talks.

Minister for Fisheries Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen has now asked the Norwegian coast guard to have a strong presence in the North Sea and North East Atlantic until a deal is struck.

UK Government sources said Ministers are hopeful of securing a new agreement in the new year, and urged for close cooperation with Oslo.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs officials also say UK fleets landed fish worth £32million in Norwegian waters in 2018.

A UK Government source added: “Norway is an important partner and is hopeful of a breakthrough later this year.

“We would rather have a practical diplomatic solution reached in relation to quotas.”

The two countries agreed last year to a post-Brexit system of co-operation, including annual negotiations on quotas and access to each other’s waters.

At the same time, tensions have also erupted between Brussels and Oslo over fishing in Svalbard, a Norwegian territory that is rich in cod.

The Svalbard Treaty signed in 1920 manages diplomatic recognition of the archipelago.

Norway claims sovereignty of the archipelago’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) within 200 miles and claims they are responsible for setting quotas for all fish stocks within 200 miles around the islands.

Oslo only allocated 18,000 tonnes for the EU for 2020 because of the UK’s departure from the EU, which Norwegian ministers say takes about 6,000 tonnes from the bloc’s total.

But under Article two of the treaty, all signatories were given equal rights to engage in commercial activities including fishing.

Because of this, Brussels are not happy about Oslo setting the quota’s and have allocated EU member states a quota of 29,000 tonnes for fishing off Svalbard with Commission officials sending letters to the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries.

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Mr Ingebrigtsen said it “unacceptable” that other countries “set quotas in our areas on their own initiative.”

He also made clear Norway had been in dialogue with Brussels before making the decision.

The Norwegian ambassador to the EU Oda Helen Sletnes also addressed the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries today to address the row.

MEP Pierre Karleskind, who chairs the Committee, said the Committee received the Ambassador in order to “maintain the dialogue on what we would not like to see become a new cod war.”


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