Norwegian purse seine vessels must fish capelin in Icelandic waters using purse nets, whereas Iceland and other nationalities with whom they share the quota are allowed to trawl for capelin. Norwegian fishers also experience limitations to the areas in which they are allowed to fish and in the number of vessels allowed to fish at one and the same time.
Norway wants this to change. Fisheries and Ocean Policy Minister Bjørnar Skjæran has gotten in touch with his Icelandic counterpart to discuss the matter.
“Norwegian capelin fishers feel discriminated in the Icelandic zone. This is something Norway has repeatedly raised with Iceland and it was important for me to raise it. I have had an open and candid conversation with my Icelandic colleague”, says Fisheries and Ocean Policy Minister Bjørnar Skjæran (Labor) in a press statement.
He says he was clear about how Icelandic vessels are not discriminated against when fishing in the Norwegian zone and as for Norway, access for more vessels in the zone and extended catch periods would contribute during a difficult situation.
Capelin fisheries in Iceland are regulated in a three-party agreement between Iceland, Norway, and Greenland. Iceland’s Fisheries Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir referred to how the current Icelandic regulation of Norwegian capelin fisheries has not been in force for very long and said that Iceland does not want to change the regulations already.
“I received no signals that Norwegian fishers would have better conditions this year, however, there are negotiations on several arenas. I will also initiate a bilateral conversation with Iceland during the NAFMC meeting (North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers’ Conference, journ. note) in May. I am focused on establishing better dialogue here. As neighbors, we should be able to find good solutions”, Skjæran says.
For Norwegian vessels, the quota is set at record-high 145,382 tons, and the purse seine vessels hold the rights in this fisheries zone, according to the regulation on capelin fisheries near Iceland. Norwegian vessels may fish in the Icelandic zone from 1 January to 22 February. The Norwegian vessels should be North of N64-30’ and there may be a maximum of 30 vessels fishing actively at any one time.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.