Why is the EU at odds with Norway? Inside the tumultuous ‘Cod war.’
A DISTINCT Arctic enclave is set to become the site of a fresh ‘cod war’ between Norway and the European Union.
Due to a disagreement over fishing quotas, Svalbard, one of the world’s northernmost inhabited locations with more polar bears and reindeer than people, could face difficulty with the EU. EU fishing vessels might be arrested in the next weeks in the waters off Svalbard, as Norway claims they have used up their quotes.
Norwegians claim that Brussels was given an illegally greater chunk of Svalbard’s dish than it was entitled to.
The row erupted as a result of the EU’s decision to reallocate fishing quotas in the wake of Brexit.
While attempting to assess the new cod catch, both Brussels and Oslo have accused each other of breaking international law.
“There is no basis under international law for the European Union to set quotas in Norwegian waters,” stated Audun Halvorsen, State Secretary to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The disagreement arose as a result of the United Kingdom’s divorce from the European Union, notably the much-maligned process of dividing fishing quotas.
The EU and the UK eventually agreed to divide their current fishing quotas, which the UK also has off the coast of Svalbard.
Brussels set aside 26,000 tonnes for EU fishing vessels off the coast of Svalbard as part of the Brexit accord.
Norway promptly refuted this, claiming exclusive rights to manage fishing in the area and informing the EU of a limit of about 18,000 tonnes.
“Controlling the resources in our national seas, as it is for the EU and its member states in EU waters, is a matter of fundamental national interest,” Mr Halvorsen added.
The Svalbard Treaty, of course, was used by Brussels to refute Norway’s claim.
In Paris in 1920, the Svalbard Treaty was signed, limiting Norwegian authority over the islands.
The EU now claims that Norway has discriminated against EU fishing vessels in favor of Norwegian and Russian vessels.
Virginijus Sinkeviius, EU Fisheries Commissioner, said he “would support the fundamental rights of the European Fishing Industry” and that the Commission is “analyzing relevant measures to oppose Norway’s unfair actions.”
Oslo, on the other hand, is pushing back against the Commission, claiming that the EU’s message “contains aspects that could be read.”