Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

The Irish fishing industry is gravely concerned at the prospect that in current ongoing negotiations in Oslo, Norway will be granted access to Irish Waters to fish 150,000 tons of Blue Whiting. This confers a value to the Norwegian fishing sector estimated at € 42M and without any compensation to the EU, and Irish industry.

Aodh O Donnell of the Irish Fish Process Organisation (IFPO) stressed that the Irish industry is not opposed to granting Norway access arrangements to fish our rich waters for Blue Whiting, as they have done so for many years. However, the industry considers it entirely reasonable that the Union receives compensation from Norway for granting such generous access, which is so crucial to the profitability of the Norwegian blue whiting fishery.

O Donnell comments: ‘’We are in Oslo to participate in ongoing fishing negotiations for 2024 and with a prospect of Norway being granted access to our waters to fish almost three times Ireland’s own quota and free gratis. This access ambition is of critical importance to Norway as this Blue Whiting stock is abundant mainly in Irish waters.

“We are not opposed to reaching an agreement and there is precedence in such arrangements for granting access. The access for Norway to Irish waters underpins their profitability for this fishery. However, a fair treatment is needed if Ireland’s seafood sector is to survive and grow, as Norway’s is. This is critical for the Irish industry, which is still reeling from the Brexit TCA in which we lost 40 % of the total EU value in this deal.”

Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) says Irish fishing bodies are united on this issue;

‘’The Irish Industry has grave concerns at the prospect of Norway being granted enormous levels of free access to Irish waters. This cannot be at Ireland’s expense, and so there must be something on the table for us too.  The Irish Government must maintain the position similar to the UK that any access for Norway to our fishing grounds, must be adequately compensated. Discussions are ongoing and a firm position must be taken until an arrangement is reached which benefits the EU and Ireland in particular, as much as Norway. Ireland must no longer attend the table as a perpetual loser; we must refuse to countenance any additional unfair deal with a non-EU Member.”

O Donnell concludes ‘’We are at a crossroads and Ireland must be prepared to maintain a firm unwavering stance. A radical reset is required regarding access by third countries to fish in our waters. The UK granted access rights to Norway in 2023 to fish mackerel in its waters and received in return a quota transfer that benefited the UK sector to the tune of approx. €35 M. This mechanism is a benchmark that can be equally applied to the blue whiting access under discussion for Norway.

“We ask the Minister to maintain a resolve and be prepared defend our interests with a meaningful compensatory transfer of quota by Norway in lieu of access. This is required as a step to turn the tide for our coastal communities.”