Brexit appears to have added to tensions in the busy fishing waters in the west Atlantic, with tempers rising in talks between the European Union and Norway and a rise in enforcement actions by Irish authorities against British vessels.
Data provided to SeafoodSource by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), a state agency that monitors all vessels operating within the Irish exclusive economic zone with the support of the Irish Naval Service, show there has been an increase in inspections and enforcement actions by Irish authorities in the country’s waters.
The total number of inspections of non-Irish vessels in 2022 was 876, compared to 673 equivalent searches in 2021. There was a big surge in enforcement actions against U.K. vessels in 2022 with 10 cases taken, compared to two for cases against vessels from France and one case against a Spanish vessel.
By contrast, in 2021, Irish authorities conducted no inspections of British vessels and six inspections of Spanish vessels, two on French vessels and one inspection each on a Belgian and a Norwegian vessel.
“[SPFA] reviews and assesses their declared catches for compliance with E.U. sea-fisheries legislation,” it said in a statement to SeafoodSource.
Brexit has also driven Irish actions at E.U. level. Bitter about what it sees as a disproportionate price paid by Ireland in terms of quota given to Britain in the Brexit settlement, Irish fishing authorities and politicians have leaned heavily on the E.U. not to concede Irish quota for blue whiting in difficult negotiations with Norway over access to fishing stocks straddling both sides’ waters.
The Irish Fish Producers Organisation’s claim Norway doesn’t deserve more blue whiting access because it has been overfishing the species (used largely for fishmeal) by an average 10 percent per year were sharply rejected by Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries State Secretary Vidar Ulriksen, who in turn suggested that E.U. states have themselves been overfishing.