Allocation of Fishing Rights in the NEA

Discussion paper

image of Allocation of Fishing Rights in the NEA

This discussion paper aims to initiate an informed debate in the Nordic countries and elsewhere on how to allocate the trans-boundary fish stocks in the North East Atlantic in the future and how to resolve possible allocation conflicts. The paper maps the current legal framework and international fisheries agreements in the North East Atlantic Ocean which forms the basis for allocation agreements. It considers the relevance of the biological status of the fish stocks and the economic situation of the coastal states in the area for the allocation of fishing rights and further proposes a dynamic allocation methodology and a decision making process including the handling of allocation conflicts. The paper is compiled by an inter-disciplinary Nordic group of fisheries experts.



What is the resource situation today and what is likely to happen in the medium/long term?

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.


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