Fishing quota dispute with EU continues

Changing climate brings more mackerel to Norway, leading to more fishing


Photo: Sara Johannessen Meek / NTB
Mackerel have traditionally been found in Norwegian waters, but recently there are more than ever.

Marit Fosse

During a recent press conference in Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas told reporters that 2023 has shown all too clearly that climate disruption is here.

Record temperatures are scorching the land and heating the sea, as extreme weather causes havoc around the globe. While we know this is just the beginning, the global response is falling far short.

Owing to the rise in ocean temperatures, Norway has come into conflict with the European Union. In the Norwegian newspapers, the headlines were “EU and Norway in heated argument over mackerel—EU threatens reprisals.”

The fact is that since the negotiation in 2014 of fishing quotas for mackerel, these fish, which have historically been found in Norwegian, British, and international waters, have changed their migration patterns. Now there are simply more mackerel swimming in Norwegian waters than before. This gives Norway the right to fish more, the Norwegians say. The EU, on the other hand, disagrees.

Since the 2014 agreement expired in 2020, Norway and the EU have been arguing about how to set the quotas for mackerel—without much success. Mackerel has become one of the most valuable fish stocks in Europe.

Negotiations on mackerel will resume on Sept. 26. But before that, on Sept. 18, the EU’s agriculture and fisheries ministers meet in Brussels. On the agenda is, among other things, the relationship with Norway.

Norway nonetheless recognizes that there is currently overfishing of mackerel. While the Norwegian position is that a new agreement must be based on the mackerel’s actual migration pattern, the big question is whether the EU countries will accept one.

What’s at stake cannot be overrated, for the competing interests are significant. In the meantime, as the sea temperature continues to rise, we can expect to be faced with more conflicts of this type.

This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE.

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Marit Fosse

Marit Fosse trained as an economist from Norwegian school of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen (Norges Handelshøyskole NHH) and then earned a doctorate in social sciences. She is the author of several books. Nansen: Explorer and Humanitarian, co-authored with John Fox, was translated into Russian/Armenian/French. In addition, Fosse is the editor of International Diplomat/Diva International in Geneva, a magazine set up 20 years ago for diplomats and persons working in the international organizations in Geneva but also elsewhere. In her free time, Fosse is an accomplished painter.