National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations – Written Evidence (NFF0002)

 

The NFFO welcomes this agreement for the following reasons.

 

  1. It is a necessary framework agreement between two coastal states which share fish stocks
  2. It is respectful of the sovereign rights of the two parties and the regulatory autonomy that is an integral expression of that sovereignty
  3. The form that the agreement takes is consistent with the UN Law of the Sea and is an expression of two sovereign parties’ willingness cooperate on the sustainable management of fisheries
  4. The content of the agreement conforms to the international norms of how coastal states who share fish stocks relate to each other:
  1. The brevity of the agreement is a merit – this is a framework agreement – not an attempt by one party to impose asymmetric or exploitative conditions on the other

 

Implications for Other Agreements

The signing of the UK/Norway agreement cannot but throw into sharp relief the current impasse in the negotiations on fisheries with the EU. The EU/s own fisheries agreement with Norway, signed in 1980 is not dissimilar to the UK/Norway agreement, recently signed. Yet, the EU (unrealistically) seeks to tie the UK into the continuation of the asymmetric and exploitative arrangements which have applied whilst the UK was subject to the Common Fisheries Policy.

 

EFRA Committee

Call for Evidence on the UK/Norway Fisheries Framework Agreement

Response by National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations

 

(1)                      Will it provide an effective basis for annual negotiations on managing access to each country’s waters, stocks and agreement on quotas?

The UK/Norway agreement is a necessary framework agreement between two coastal states which share fish stocks. It is respectful of the sovereign rights of the two parties and the regulatory autonomy that is an integral expression of that sovereignty. The form that the agreement takes is consistent with the UN Law of the Sea and is an expression of two sovereign parties’ willingness cooperate on the sustainable management of fisheries

Access to fish in each other’s EEZ will form part of annual fisheries agreements.

 

(2)                      Will it provide an effective basis for the sustainable management of shared fish stocks?

The UK/Norway agreement is not dissimilar to the current EU/Norway framework agreement. It is a framework for cooperation, so not in itself a guarantee that the decisions taken within it will deliver sustainable fisheries. Nevertheless, both the UK and Norway are signatories to UNCLOS which requires that shared fish stocks are harvested sustainably, and both have a strong track record in the promotion of sustainable fisheries management based on the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic and social.

(3)                      Will it provide an effective basis for vessel licensing, monitoring and enforcement?

It is a framework agreement between two coastal states. Responsibility for vessel licensing, monitoring and enforcement will lie with the respective coastal state.

(4)                      How will it affect the UK fishing fleet and fisheries businesses?

The framework agreement with Norway will provide a stable platform for future annual fisheries agreements. The content of those annual agreements will impact on UK fleets in the following areas:

(5)                      Does it raise any issues for negotiations between the UK, Norway and the EU on trilateral governance arrangements for fish stocks in the North Sea?

The UK/Norway framework agreement is in line with international norms of behaviour between coastal states which share fish stocks and feature reciprocity and balance. As such it highlights the fact the EU is an outlier in seeking something radically different in its future fisheries relationship with the UK. The EU (unrealistically) seeks in the context of the current UK/EU negotiations to maintain the unbalanced and asymmetrical relationship in terms of access and quota shares, which has pertained whilst the UK was within the EU and CFP.

With or without an UK/EU framework agreement, decisions on TACs will be required on an agreed, or failing that, on an autonomous basis. It is preferable that TAC decisions, quota shares, and access arrangements are agreed within the context of annual fisheries agreements.

27 October 2020