EU fishermen call for protection of fishing rights from Norway

Photo: Europêche

In a letter sent earlier this week by all EU fishing companies active in the cod fishery in the Barents Sea, represented by Europêche and ENAFA, EU fishermen denounced once again the decision taken by Norway to appropriate the long-held EU cod quota in Svalbard.

Europêche said in a statement that due to the disagreement between the two parties, the EU had to provisionally allocate a partial cod quota to European vessels for 2022. This reduced quota of 4,500 tonnes will expire at the end of March and a new quota allocation has to be issued.

Europêche remarked that, given the lack of real progress in the bilateral negotiations, the sector calls on European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to decide for a unilateral allocation of the full amount that historically corresponds to the EU fleet (19,636 tonnes), plus 4,964 tonnes of cod Norway owes from 2021.

According to the fishing sector representatives, Norway’s attitude “illicitly grabbing EU quota shows not only flagrant disdain for international law but also a blatant disrespect for the EU as a partner and an ally.”

The Europêche statement added that Norway exports to the EU over €1.3 billion (US$1.43 billion) annually in fish products, mostly tariff free, and they have continued to do so. The quantity of quota withheld from the EU only represents one per cent of the total Barents Sea cod TAC, and 0.5 per cent of the quota available to Norway, but it amounts to 25 per cent of the EU quota.

Also relevant is to point out that half of the withheld quota would automatically be transferred to the Russian Federation as per their bilateral agreements, Europêche continued. This was the case in 2021 and it could be the case in 2022 if the situation persists.

The sector argues that if no seafood related trade actions against Norway are adopted by the EU, the only alternative is to decide for a unilateral allocation of the full amount that the Treaty of Paris and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement determine for the EU fleet. Representatives of the fleet call upon EU decision-makers to take this decision in the Fisheries Council of March 21 to 22, 2022.