UK cod-out after Norway talks collapse

The collapse of talks on a fishing quota deal with Norway has exposed the vulnerability of the UK’s fishing industry and left it in a weaker position than when the UK was in the EU, fishing leaders have said. [EPA-EFE/VICKIE FLORES]

Talks between the UK and Norway on a new fishing agreement collapsed on Thursday, with ministers claiming that the Oslo government had rejected a “fair offer”.

With the UK now out of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy it is able to negotiate individual fisheries agreements with other countries.

The two governments agreed last year to a post-Brexit system including annual negotiations on quotas and access to each other’s waters but were unable to broker an annual deal for 2021.

The result is that UK fleets will have no access to Norway’s sub-Arctic waters, known for their cod catches. That will affect supplies of the key components in fish and chips, one of the UK’s most popular meals.

“We put forward a fair offer on access to UK waters and the exchange of fishing quotas, but we have concluded that our positions remain too far apart to reach an agreement this year,” said a spokesman for the UK’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The fisheries industry has warned that the failure to reach an agreement will cost hundreds of jobs in fishing communities in the East of England.

“The Norwegians […] will continue to sell their fish products to the UK tariff-free, while we are excluded from these waters. Quite simply, this is a disgrace and a national embarrassment,” said UK Fisheries chief executive Jayne Sandell.

(Benjamin Fox, EURACTIV.com)

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