Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Helga Pedersen has got in a flap about the film of a British registered trawler throwing 80% of its catch overboard after leaving Norwegian waters and entering British waters – see the video and read the news story from The Guardian.

The article states that Pedersen will “press for review of the EU fishing policy and wanted to ban any boat discarding fish that were caught in Norwegian waters“. Now how you manage to prove that is beyond me, but it’s also beyond me to believe that a Norwegian Minister could be so naïve to assume that the EU would in any way listen.

The EU’s fisheries policy is undoubtedly a mess (depite some tentative reform efforts), but the livelihood of fishermen in EU countries always seems to trump any environmental concerns at the annual round of quota negotiations. There’s no effort to put together a cohesive policy.

But while the concerns that Helga Pedersen raises are undoubtedly valid, the EU is not going to listen to a shrill country that is not a Member State. She would be better to argue that the Norway should join the EU and the condition for its membership should be a wholescale reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.


  1. “but the livelihood of fishermen in EU countries always seems to trump any environmental concerns” :

    this does dot seem to be entirely true as the French minister, M. Barnier, is actually lobbying to support fishermen’s freedom to fish whatever they like instead of the new environmental policies aiming at preserving ressources (which is ironic considering that before being in charge of fishing policies he was a member of the Commission as well as a former minister for environment).

    Otherwise I can only agree that the Norvegian government should not expect to be listened to until they are members of the Union.

  2. I suggest Norway should put some gunboats out there, like the Icelandic did, and show they mean business.

    The CFP is the perfect example of why I despise the EU, and even more so, despise the British politicians who go to Brussels, cap in hand, to ask for something that was once theirs.

  3. I believe quotas are sold, yes, and that there are subsequent complaints as you describe. I don’t though insist that the EU is the fount of all hypocrisy in the world: only that all of the EU is indeed hypocritical.

  4. That’s a truly dreadful waste of fish however you look at it.

    Maybe all fish in Norwegian waters have been tagged so it can be proved where they were caught :)?

    The lack of genuine joined-upness in policy making on fisheries is shocking. The marine green paper was supposed to be an attempt to do something about it (along with seabed exploitation, shipping emissions etc.) Obviously it doesn’t really seem to do the trick but at least someone somewhere in the European Commission was acknowledging that there really is a problem.

    A genuine question (which reading the above I suspect Tim might possibly want to answer) as I freely admit to not being an expert on the Common Fisheries Policy…
    did not UK fishermen sell their fishing rights to French and Spanish fishermen (which is perfectly possible and legal under CFP), and then complain that French and Spanish fishermen were fishing in UK waters? Or is the scurrilous left-wing press version of the real story?

  5. Err, no.

    “In the case of CFP, Norway would as one of the largest fishing nations in Europe, have substantial influence on the policy as members.”

    The UK was the largest fishing nation before we joined the EU and thus the CFP. What happened to us would happen to you: the fishing grounds would be declared a common european resource and you would be entirely fucked, just as we were.

    Don’t you actually know any history?

  6. wow.. easy now.. I don’t think the EU is a total f*ck up, but I think it is perfectly possible to be critical towards many of its policies and still think that the EU is a good idea.

    Furthermore I strongly believe membership would be beneficial for Norway, as we today have a totally undemocratic EEA-agreement, where we accept the aquis without a say in the decision-making process.

    This is from the web site of the Norwegian Government about the scope of the EEA which “cover the so-called four freedoms (free movement of goods, capital, services and persons). In addition, it establishes a system ensuring equal conditions of competition. The Agreement also provides for co-operation in such areas as research and development, education, environment, social policy, culture, health and equal opportunities, and in a range of programmes and activities carried out in the EU. The EEA Agreement does not cover the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy or the Common Fisheries Policy, but contains provisions on various aspects of trade in agricultural and fish products.”

    The result is that every decision made within these areas, also apply to Norway. While member states can influence and negotiate any proposal, either in the Parliament or the Council, Norway is left outside without a voice. Membership would change this situation, for the better. In the case of CFP, Norway would as one of the largest fishing nations in Europe, have substantial influence on the policy as members.

  7. “But this can of course never replace full, democratic participation as members of the EU.”

    So you’re a cretin too? How can joining an institution that you agree is a total fuck up be an advance?

  8. There are two things I would like to add to this discussion about CFP and how Norway best can influence it.

    From a Norwegian, pro-European point of view, I must say that I also strongly disagree with how the current fishery policy in the EU does not make discards illegal. The House of Lords in the UK, very recently published a report reviewing the CFP, and said that: “Each year, between 10 and 60 per cent (depending on the fishery) of fish and other marine organisms caught in EC vessels’ fishing gear are discarded (thrown back into the sea, usually dead)”

    It seems obvious to me that this practice must be banned and the House of Lords recommends this in their report. The problem has been some member states’ reluctance to change their practice. There are positive things happening though, as the Commission has been pushing for a ban (since 2002 I think) and I believe there is momentum now to change this ridiculous waste of resources as discard of fish is.

    I also believe the best way for Norway to influence the CFP is by joining the EU, as I believe we would have been an invaluable partner with the Commission to push such a ban on discards through the decision making process. However, it is important to note that the CFP is one of the few areas where Norway is consulted on regular and structural basis, as a non-member due the size of its waters, fish stock and sustainable fishery policy. But this can of course never replace full, democratic participation as members of the EU.

    The report

    The Commission last proposal to ban discard:

  9. Wait a minute….you mean your argument is that one of the few places in the world with a decent fisheries policy (recognising, as it does that this is a Commons Tragedy and that thus property rights are the answer) should join the EU because the EU’s fisheries policy is crap?

  10. I suppose if the Norwegians were to set up a Galileo type system then they could home in on transgressors. The idea that they would come in with a guarantee ofd CFP reform is delightful, but a tad fanciful. Both in concept and in possible application.

    Oh have you seen that Aland is playing silly buggers again?

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