Norway and the EU remain caught in conflict over cod-fishing quotas off Svalbard. EU officials confirmed earlier this week that they think Norway is violating the Svalbard Treaty principles by cutting back on its quotas since Great Britain left the EU.
Norway is also in the final rounds of free trade negotiations with Great Britain, which formally has withdrawn from the EU. Norway, which has sovereignty over Svalbard, thus reduced the EU’s cod quota based on the UK’s historic part of it. The EU wants to retain its full quota, which it then distributes among EU member nations.
An EU spokesperson told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that it’s “unfortunate” Norway took a unilateral decision to end “well-established methods” of doling out quotas, and thus “limited the amounts of Arctic cod that the EU fleet can fish.” Norway, however, claims it now needs to also issue fishing quotas to the UK, and can’t do that without reducing the EU’s.
Professor Geir Ulfstein, an expert on international courts’ legitimacy at the University of Oslo, maintains that Norway is in its full rights to reduce the EU’s fishing quotas off Svalbard. “The EU can’t fish based on its understanding of what the quota should be,” Ulfstein told DN. “It’s Norway who decides. If the EU is dissatisfied it can resort to diplomacy or take its case to the couts. But Norway can arrest EU fishing boats if necessary.” He added that since Britain has left the EU, it will get its own quota and the EU’s quota will be reduced accordingly.