Norway’s post-Brexit North Sea vision
An outline of possible post-Brexit management for North Sea fisheries was outlined at the recent Norway-EU negotiations in Bergen, with the Norwegian delegation presenting a picture of how things will work with the UK as an independent coastal state.
The Norwegian delegation’s ‘Future Framework’ presentation makes it plain that Norway is thinking ahead to what shape the new arrangements will take, with the Norwegian vision consisting of three main elements; firstly relevant modern management principles, and the twin goals of increasing long-term total out-take and utilisation of all fish; ‘and all of the fish taken out of the sea.’
Norway recognises that with the UK no longer part of the CFP, there will be a need for new legal and institutional structures. To this end Norway proposes a joint EU, Norway, UK Fisheries Commission, responsible for managing the joint stocks in the North Sea. The North Sea Fisheries Commission would be responsible for an annual agreed record.
It would also make decisions on total allowable catches for shared stocks; and decisions on what stocks to include in the agreement.
Norway made the point that quota exchanges are the glue that holds the agreement together and these could be included as (bilateral) annexes to the annual agreement. Permanent sub-groups could work on areas such as monitoring control and enforcement, technical regulation and the development of management plans.
According to the Norwegian thinking, a new framework agreement would define the geographical scope of the Agreement, outline the main principles for co-operation and shape the institutional framework for negotiations.
The NFFO reports that there is question mark over the appropriate legal status of the Agreement. This could take the form of a legally binding document according to the internal procedures of the parties, or a less formal type of agreement.
Crucially, such an Agreement would also cover the important areas of future sharing of the stocks (which are currently not codified) and access arrangements.
These could be included in the form of bilateral annexes to the framework agreement, or agreed record, or could take a trilateral form. The EU/Norway agreement in 1979, pioneered zonal attachment as the basis for establish the resources in each exclusive economic zone and therefore the basis of national quota shares.
According to the NFFO representatives at the meeting, this comes as a brief but highly significant intervention at a crucial juncture.
‘It acknowledges, as we do, the biological, geographical and legal realities that shared stocks must be managed cooperatively and managed well, if we are to optimise the benefits,’ an NFFO spokesman said.
‘This therefore a welcome and timely intervention which may shape the way our North Sea fisheries are managed for years to come. It will also be important to begin thinking about similar but not necessarily identical arrangements for our fisheries in Western waters.’
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