Norway May Shut Access to EU, U.K. Fishing Amid Brexit Delay

Norway may close its waters to fishing vessels from the European Union and the U.K. on Jan. 1 if a deal between the three parties isn’t concluded by the end of the month.

Negotiations over fisheries between Norway, the EU and the U.K. have been delayed due to the Brexit talks and it “isn’t a given” that they will be finalized in time, Norwegian Fisheries and Seafood Minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen told parliament on Friday. Norway also can’t expect to have access to EU or U.K. economic zones for its vessels before agreements are in place, he said.

“There is still contact between the parties at official level, so things can turn around and happen quickly,” the minister told Bloomberg by phone.

Norway, which has a free-trade deal with the EU as part of its membership of the European Economic Area, reached a bilateral framework agreement on fisheries cooperation with the U.K. in September.

“Norway has for some time pushed to promptly start the work on a trilateral agreement and from our side it’s desirable that this begins as soon as the situation between the EU and the U.K. is clarified,” the minister told lawmakers in Oslo. “We are also concerned with maintaining our fisheries cooperation with the EU.”

Ingebrigtsen declined to quantify the potential economic costs of a deal not being reached, saying only that such an outcome would “not have dramatic consequences” for Norwegian fishermen.

Norwegian fisheries are the world’s ninth largest, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, with about 2.5 million metric tons produced in 2018.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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