Norway could BAN UK and EU fishing vessels from January 1 if Brexit talks collapse

Brexit fishing: Expert reveals 'key issues' in EU trade deal

With less than a month until the end of the transition period on December 31, both sides are scrambling to secure a deal. But talks remained gridlocked on fishing, governance and the so-called level playing field.

The Scandinavian country – which is not part of the EU – said it wants a three-way deal before it opens up its waters.

But now, hopes of a UK-Norway deal may have been scuppered as the gridlocked talks will mean a deal cannot yet take effect.

Fisheries minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen told the Norwegian Parliament: “If we do not get a deal by January 1, we will not open Norway’s economic fishing zones to vessels from the EU and Britain.

“Neither can we expect Norwegian vessels to get access to their zones before a deal is in place.

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“We’ve been telling the EU for a long time that we needed a three-way deal, and the ball is therefore now in the EU’s court.

“It is not a given that these (fisheries) talks can be concluded before the new year.”

The UK-Norway deal was hailed as Britain’s “first as an independent coastal state” back in September.

It was believed to give back UK fishermen access to £32million worth of seafood in the cod-rich Norwegian waters.

Norway is part of the European single market and has had a fishing deal with the bloc in place since 1980.

But following Britain’s departure of the EU, the terms will have to be renegotiated.

Once the transition period ends on December 31, the UK will no longer be part of the much-hated Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

This means they can “decide who can access its waters and on what terms”.

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Norway has twice voted ‘no’ to EU membership with some claiming this was due to the desire for an independent fishing policy.

Commenting on the agreement earlier this year, UK environment secretary George Eustice said: “The agreement is testament to our commitment to acting as a cooperative independent coastal state.”

Fishing has been one of the main reasons why negotiations have been gridlocked.

Under the controversial CFP, all member states are given access to EU waters via quotas.

As the UK has a large coastal area, critics have often argued the system is unfair.

Yesterday, the UK Fisheries, a leading player in Britain’s North Sea fleet, said the Government should move towards a further deal with the Norwegians whatever the outcome of Brexit talks.

A spokesman said: “The door is wide open to a deal with Norway which saves the UK distant waters fleet and the Norwegians should be very receptive.

“When the UK leaves the EU, Norway will be able to directly re-offer us the quotas for the Arctic cod that we currently catch in the Norwegian Economic Zone as in fact they would then be bound to do under international law.

“Meanwhile, Norwegian vessels will still want to fish in the UK North Sea Exclusive Economic Zone and we can grant them continued access in a fair, balanced and logical exchange.

“In fact, skilful negotiation would mean an even better outcome for the UK than we already have, retaining or even adding to the valuable Arctic cod resource that the UK distant waters fleet depends on.

“It’s an open goal – let’s get on and score it.”

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