Table of Contents

  • Sustainable exploitation of marine resources requires that overall fishing pressure is kept within sustainable limits. This report is about sharing this resource between the fishing nations and does not address setting the overall harvest which is often formulated in terms of a Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Without sharing arrangements the sum of individual national quotas risks exceeding sustainable limits and therefore sustainable management requires an agreed allocation system. Marine biomass such as fish is a basic natural capital asset. It should be managed to provide the highest possible return to ensure food supply and sustain economies.

  • Today’s allocation of national fish quotas in the North East Atlantic (NEA) is for most of the species done by use of the allocation key applied by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, NEAFC, when the 200 nm EEZs were established in the late 1970’ies. This key is to a large extent based on the coastal states’ fishing records during the period 1971–76. The same applies to the bilateral fisheries agreements from the late 1970’es on the allocation of fish quotas. These initial allocations have subsequently obtained the status of continuing “allocation keys.”

  • Today’s allocation of national fish quotas in the North East Atlantic (NEA) is for most of the species based on allocation keys negotiated in connection with the establishment of the EU Common Fisheries Policy or negotiated in the framework of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, NEAFC, the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission (JNRFC) or in bilateral agreements between EU (at the time EC) and Norway and the Faroe Islands. Many of these allocations were established when the 200 nm EEZs were established in the late 1970’ies.

  • According to UNCLOS’ Article 56.1.a the coastal state has the exclusive right of harvesting in its economic zone, i.e. “sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting… the natural resources of the waters superjacent to the seabed… with regard to exploitation and exploration…”. This means that fish in the zone belongs to the coastal state, as long as it is in the zone. In this zone the coastal state may itself manage the stock by allowing, prohibiting and regulating fishery, by limiting participation and quotas etc. “sovereign rights for the purpose of exploiting… natural resources.” Accordingly each state, targeting the same stock, will unilaterally set its own total allowable catches (TAC). However, this rule must be seen in connection with the rule in Article 63.2: “Where the same stock or stocks of associated species occur both within the exclusive economic zone and in an area beyond and adjacent to the zone, the coastal state and the states fishing for such stocks in the adjacent area, shall seek either directly or through appropriate subregional or regional organizations, to agree upon the measures necessary for the conservation of these stocks in the adjacent area”.

  • The inability of the allocation agreements to deal effectively with changes in the spatio-temporal distribution of fish stocks is a root cause to the disagreements about the allocation of fishing rights in the NEA. NMTT thus disagree that the root cause is the failure of international legal frameworks and agreements to recognize that the world is dynamic as they all assume a constant nature. This is simply because the Law of the Sea is not hindering a dynamic management of resource distribution. All spatio-temporal distributions of fish stocks whether measured in abundance, in biomass or in production are subject to annual variations and temporal drifts. How these changes impact the availability and thus the will for some countries to raise the issue about allocations depends on the location the EEZ relative to the geographical range for the stock. In general, the geographical range narrows with decreasing stock size and increases when the stock increases. Classical examples from the NEA includes the North Sea herring which disappeared from the Norwegian part of the North Sea during a depletion phase in the 1970s and the Atlanto- Scandian herring which for more than a decade during the 1970–1980 – also a period when the stock was depleted – only occurred in the Norwegian EEZ and mostly in Norwegian coastal waters. Recently the NEA mackerel has increased its range into Icelandic and Greenlandic waters associated with an increase in stock size.

  • The recommendation from Nordic Marine Think-Tank builds on the allocation criteria specified in UNFSA Article 11. The NMTT recommendations are intended to be universally applicable across all regulative fora in the NEA and to pelagic as well as demersal fisheries. The allocation criteria apply to coastal states and to states that because of changes in the distribution effectively become coastal states, i.e. fish occur in its EEZ. The allocation criteria are (with reference to UNFSA)

  • What negotiation strategy to choose is a theme outside the scope of this NMTT discussion paper. It should, however, be noted that in the NEA we deal with “repetitive players” and that a number of fish stocks are involved. This means that a “grand bargain solution” may be relevant. Every negotiation approach will have to take a point of departure that each coastal state has the competence by international law to harvest fish stocks present in its own waters cf. UNCLOS Article 56. However, new states may enter the scene and that means that more states shall “share the cake”.

  • The solution/recommendation presented in Chapter 4 and 5 can be taken further: It might be necessary to consider mechanisms which support the need for reaching a compromise on the allocation of quotas among the states involved. Such a mechanism should be founded on the three requirements/ rights on which the allocation system builds

  • Debatoplægget er skrevet af en tværfaglig nordisk ekspertgruppe med ekspertise indenfor havret, ressourcebiologi, fiskeriforvaltning og fiskeriøkonomi og er resultatet af et års analysearbejde og ekspertdrøftelser.

  • The allocation key is the basis that is used to allocate fishing opportunities of defined fish stocks between countries. The allocation key is essentially based on each country’s historical (long-established and continuous) fishing activities of specific fish stocks in specific migration area. By on a regular basis exchanging information of catches, fishing effort, and other data countries document historical fishing in the migration area. The allocation key is adjusted by taking into account the fish stocks zonal attachment, see Zonal Attachment. About the EU key to allocate fishing opportunities between EU-member states, see Relative Stability.