Nordic Think Tank: Drop outdated North Atlantic fishing quotasJune
The current fishing quotas are outdated and far too often they lead to
disputes between the Nordic countries. In connection with the conference
of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Tórshavn Tuesday June 2nd in the
Faroe Islands, the Nordic Marine Think Tank presents a new fishery
allocation model that takes more account of actual biological and
economic conditions. According to experts, this could put an end to much
of the quarrelling between the fishing nations in the region.
June 2nd, the Nordic Marine Think Tank presents a concrete proposal for
how the countries around the North Sea can permanently resolve the
conflicts and disputes that have left their mark on fisheries in the
North Atlantic in recent years.
Trade bans, complaints lodged with the WTO and suspensions of
sustainability certificates are just some examples of the consequences
of the disputes between the countries. The perhaps most well-known case
is the recent conflict between the Faroe Islands and the EU, which
resulted in an EU ban on imports of herring and mackerel from the
Faroes. If the Nordic Countries fail to reach agreement they risk losing
their position as champions of sustainable fisheries at the detriment
the whole fishery sector. The reason for the conflicts is that the
principles for allocating fish quotas have not been in line with
developments since they were adopted in the 1970s. Fish stocks and the
fisheries industry have changed much since then.
The Think Tank,
which consists of experts from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland,
Greenland and the Faroe Islands, presents its results in connection with
the international conference "Growth in the Blue Bio-economy" in
Tórshavn on the development potential in the North Atlantic. The
chairman of the Think Tank, Prof. Sten Sverdrup-Jensen from Aalborg
static quota system of the 1970s was a sensible solution at the time.
However, fish have changed their area of occurrence since that time, and
climate change causes alterations in the ecosystems. We are presenting a
dynamic model for quota allocations. That is non-existent today. The
model builds on the realities for biological resources and it holds an
economic perspective. Moreover, we are proposing a procedure for
conflict resolution. The new approach is decisive in seas, which are
seeing increasing changes in the size and occurrence of fish stocks."
Need for a new model
experts have looked closely at the current international rules for
allocating fish resources between countries, which rovides a good
knowledge base for changing the criteria for allocating fishing rights. "We
propose a dynamic and durable allocation system which can be adapted to
the developments of the occurrence and size of fish stocks. This also
means that there will be a higher degree of allowing a country to fish
in the waters of another country for economic reasons. We believe that
the focus should be on fish abundance in spawning and nursery areas, the
seasonal patterns of fish stocks and fishable sizes"
says Prof. Sverdrup-Jensen. "Only
by adopting allocation criteria, which at all times reflect the reality
of biological resources and the economy, we can establish the
foundation for agreements between nations on quota allocation and the
sustainable exploitation of fish stocks,"
says Prof. Sverdrup-Jensen.
The objective of the proposal of the Think Tank is to generate a
debate on the allocation rules at a time and in an environment, where
the only thing you know for sure is that everything is constantly
"If we don't do things differently, we will continue to
see conflicts in the future like those we still have with mackerel
between the EU and Norway on the one side and Greenland and Iceland on
the other. The conflict is extremely harmful for the international
reputation of the Nordic countries as champions for the sustainable
management of fish stocks. Such conflicts are not good for everyone
involved. They risk damaging the fishing industry as a whole because
ultimately the consumers will react negatively. The new model can
resolve conflicts before they arise. And this will benefit us all," said
The Think Tank
is also proposing a new model for dispute settlement. At the moment
there is no procedure to resolve conflicts other than the parties trying
to reach agreement. Not even the EU Common Fisheries Policy has
relevant guidelines, which experts consider to be very impractical.
The Think Tank therefore proposes resolving conflicts through
already existing institutions established by the North Atlantic coastal
Already in 2004, the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission
(NEAFC) set up a "fast track" procedure with arbitration panels to
But none of the countries has tried to resolve
conflicts through such arbitration panels, even though they all had
agreed to set them up. The group of experts proposes that the procedure
should apply for all fisheries agreements in the North-East Atlantic and
be respected by all the countries. "Basically the countries just need to use the disputes system they already have agreed on, which is in the interest of everyone."
concludes Prof. Sverdrup-Jensen.
FactsExisting fish quotas
quotas for the individual North-Atlantic countries are based on a
static fixed allocation key based on catches figures from 1971 to 1976.
The total allowable catch (TAC) is based on scientific data on fish
stocks. For stocks which are shared and managed jointly with countries
outside the EU, the TACs are agreed with these countries.
New model for fish quotas
Nordic Marine Think Tank proposes modernising earlier criteria.
Basically, the new model is more dynamic. There is more focus on
spawning and nursery areas, on seasonal migration of stocks, and on
whether fish are big enough to be caught. Furthermore two other criteria
are suggested, i.e. fisheries track-record and the overall significance
of fisheries for the economy. Local community issues should not be a
factor in international management. Countries should address these
About the Nordic Marine Think Tank
The Think Tank is an association independent of economic interests,
political organisations, public authorities, private institutions and
business. Its objective is a more informed public debate and media
coverage of issues related to the condition of the sea and the
sustainable exploitation of the living resources in the sea. The Think
Tank has a special focus on the role and significance of fisheries.
As of today - Tuesday June 2nd the report can be downloaded from the home page of the Think Tank.
Click here for download.
If you want the press-release in Danish - click her
more information and comments, please contact the chairman of the
Nordic Marine Think Tank, Prof. Sten Sverdrup-Jensen on tel. +45
61670978 and/or by email
Or Jesper Malm, chief advisor at Operate communications bureau t
el. +45 3816 8090 or mobile +45 2764 8091
ContactsSten Sverdrup-Jensen, adjunct professor at Aalborg University
Prof. Sten Sverdrup-Jensen is chairman of the Nordic Marine
Think Tank since 2012. He has more than 30 years' experience with
fisheries issues at Aalborg University, the North Sea Centre at
Hirtshals and the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources
Management. He has worked in Denmark and internationally in fisheries
research, fisheries development, fisheries administration and in
particular on institutional aspects.Peter Ørebech, professor at Norges Fiskerihøgskole, the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø
Prof. Ørebech is a Norwegian lawyer specialised in marine and
fisheries law. He is a professor at Norges Fiskerihøgskole, the Arctic
University of Norway in Tromsø. Throughout his career, Prof. Ørebech has
had a special interest in how EU law, EEA law and international trade
agreements affect Norwegian fisheries management and Nordic sovereignty.
DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HEREPress release in Danish