Norway Study Trip

28th September 2017 in Brexit, Domestic Fisheries Policy, Europe / Common Fisheries Policy

An NFFO delegation of 11 has recently returned from a study tour to Oslo and Bergen to learn in detail how Norway operates as an independent coastal state; experience that is likely to be very relevant when the UK leaves the European Union. Discussions with the Norwegian Ministry for Fisheries in Oslo, senior officials of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association and key personnel in the Fisheries Directorate as well as the Marine Institute, also touched on the kind of bilateral arrangements that the UK and Norway might aspire to post-Brexit.

Norway Study Trip

Mike Cohen, NFFO Chairman said, “This was an excellent opportunity to learn at first hand how the Norwegian system of fisheries management works and the philosophy behind it. I cannot praise the hospitality that we received enough. Government officials, fishermen’s representatives, fisheries managers, coastguard and fisheries scientists were incredibly open and eager to share their experience with us.”

“It is difficult not to admire the Norwegian system of management. Clear about its objectives – sustainable and profitable fisheries - pragmatic, flexible, tough, a strong partnership with fishermen.”

“The results confirm that the Norwegians have managed their fisheries well. They are reaping the benefits with high yields and profitable fishing vessels. Not everything is the same in our waters as in Norway, but there is a lot that is relevant and it makes a great deal of sense to learn from that wealth of useful knowledge.”

“It is significant that over 90% of Norwegian stocks are shared with other countries but this hasn’t hampered the building of effective harvest rules that have demonstrably been effective. The key to cooperation with other countries is the annual fisheries agreement that sets TACs, access arrangements and quota shares.”

“The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association is an integral part of the decision making process and with that level of influence come responsibilities.”

“The shape of a new quota regime, still under discussion was described and the centrality of a structural policy to their management system was explained.”

“Naturally we were very interested to hear how Norway has developed a workable discard ban that fits within a comprehensive set of management policies that are mutually supporting.”

“It is going to take some time to digest all we have learnt but our whole delegation was very impressed.” The diversity of the NFFO’s membership was reflected in the composition of our delegation. Some of our members were primarily interested in North Sea joint stocks, others in inshore fishing, others in pelagics or quota exchanges. All were eager to understand how the Norwegian system fits together.

“Given geography and biology, the UK and Norway are fated to work together on fisheries management forever. Given recent politics, the nature of that relationship is likely to change and intensify in the future and this was a good start on that journey together.”