Norway and Britain have reached a bilateral agreement on fisheries, the Norwegian government said on Wednesday, before Britain leaves the European Union’s single market at the end of the year.
The framework agreement, which takes effect on January 1, will govern control measures, licences and research, and also facilitates a mutual exchange of quotas and access to each other’s waters, the Norwegian government said in a statement.
It will be signed in London on Wednesday, the Norwegian Ministry of Industry and Fisheries said.
British fisheries organisations said such a deal showed that the terms the EU was seeking in a future agreement were an “aberration” in not treating Britain as an independent coastal nation able to control access to its fishing waters.
While Norway is not a member of the EU, it is integrated into the bloc’s common market and must negotiate separate post-Brexit trade relations with Britain.
Britain formally left the EU in January but London and Brussels are seeking a new trade deal before a status-quo transition arrangement ends in December.
Negotiations between Britain and the EU have stumbled over fisheries, fair competition and how to settle disputes.
The EU says it wants a “fair deal” that gives access for boats from the bloc’s member states such as France and the Netherlands.
Britain says becoming an independent coastal state after the end of the transition will hand it back control over who has access to British fishing waters – a commitment from the government that Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, described as “clear and unequivocal”.
Deas said Britain wants a deal with Brussels that is similar to the one with Norway, but that the EU’s refusal “underlines that it’s the EU that is the outlier in this by comparison with other countries, (and) other coastal states”.
“In that respect it is the EU and what they are seeking with the UK (which) is the aberration in international fisheries terms.”