Norway has threatened to use the Coast Guard to catch vessels from the EU fishing over-quota around Svalbard. The EU replied that it would retaliate by “all necessary means”.
– If the EU continues to fish after the quota is met, we must resort to measures such as fines, arrests or withdrawals. It is important for us as a country to stand together in cases like this, said Sps Geir Pollestad, leader of the business committee.
– We make it easy for the EU if we make this issue into party politics in Norway, said Pollestad. The Center Party supports the government’s view of the dispute and the demands it has made.
Both opponents and supporters of the European Union in Norway joined the ranks behind the Solberg government.
– We support the Norwegian authorities’ handling of this case, said Anniken Huitfeldt (Labor Party), chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
– The Labor-led government will defend Norwegian fishing rights and interests. In recent decades, Norwegian fishing and quota policies have been much more successful than in our European neighbors, he wrote in an email.
Disputes over cod quotas for EU and UK in fisheries protection zones around Svalbard after Brexit.
In a diplomatic note from June 29, the EU threatened Norway sharply.
– The EU stands ready to take all necessary measures against Norway to protect legitimate fishing rights and EU interests which have been illegally restricted, he said.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has so far not responded to the latest note. But in a note from May 4 this year, Norway rejected the EU’s view.
Close to UN war resolutions
The level of conflict between the two parties was extraordinarily high, and it surprised many people.
– This is very close to how the UN Security Council stated when they legitimized the use of military force, said former UN ambassador Morten Wetland about the latest EU record.
Wetland has a past as deputy director of the Foreign Ministry’s legal department, Secretary of State to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and has been Norway’s ambassador to the United Nations and Berlin. He is currently an independent consultant and assists European trawler owners in conflict.
Brexit sparks conflict
Since 1986, Norway has set cod quotas for EU countries. In parallel, the EU has set similar quotas. This regime has functioned without conflict.
Brexit destroys harmony: By 2021, Norway has reduced its EU quota from 29,000 to 18,000 tonnes of cod. The quota is based on the historic fishing of 27 EU countries in the waters. At the same time, the UK has received a smaller quota than before, which is 5,500 tonnes.
The European Union reacted to the cuts and claimed that Norway had supplied itself with a surplus quota of around 5,000 tonnes along with Russia.
Foreign Minister Audun Halvorsen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied in Wetland’s reply that the EU could set quotas in Norwegian waters:
– The control of resources in our maritime area is a fundamental national interest. That someone takes the law into their own hands sets a dangerous precedent. This undermines the basis for responsible resource management and undermines Norway’s interests, Halvorsen wrote.
The EU did not receive the new quota and responded by allocating the same quota as before. Norway responded by stating that we would send the Coast Guard to catch fishing vessels that caught fish in excess of the Norwegian quota.
Norwegian authorities and the European Union have been holding meetings for almost a year without finding a solution.
– The EU does not have access under international law to set quotas in waters under Norwegian jurisdiction and violates Norwegian regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a May 4 note.
The EU did not accept Norway’s cuts and will retain the old quotas based on historical entitlements. The European Union described Norway’s position as “systematically and intentionally discriminatory against ships flying the flags of EU member states”.
Q: Norway should be just as clear
Usually, conflict and use of language will signal the use of trade policy measures against Norway. But as the case progresses, Wetland fears the EU could send coast guard vessels to defend its fishing vessels.
– Do you think the EU is ready to use force to maintain fishing quotas?
– Looks like they’re ready to send their own coast guard to Svalbard, replied Wetland.