This agreement, which supersedes the previous arrangement dating back from 1966 between Denmark, Sweden and Norway, will allow those countries to maintain reciprocal access for their vessels in each other's waters within the defined area and ensure continuity of their fishing operations in this area. Further joint work is underway on important selectivity measures in the Skagerrak area.
Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime and Fisheries, said: “I welcome this good example of the improved cooperation between the European Union and Norway on fisheries in the Skagerrak. This agreement is of vital importance to fishermen from both Denmark and Sweden, as well as from Norway, who have traditionally conducted fisheries in this limited area.”
The new agreement, for which negotiations were finalised in London on 24 October 2013, allows for control measures in line with the principles of Coastal State jurisdiction whilst maintaining the same conditions as at present within the defined area of the Skagerrak and Kattegat.
Fisheries will be subject to management and conservation measures established either individually or jointly by the Parties, including control measures taken by the relevant Coastal State.
A neighbourhood Agreement on reciprocal access to fishing in the Skagerrak and Kattegat between Denmark, Norway and Sweden was signed on 19 December 1966 and entered into force on 7 August 1967. That agreement allowed for reciprocal access between those three countries to fish in the area up to 4 nautical miles from their respective baselines in the Skagerrak. It also established that the area in question was deemed to constitute the high seas and therefore flag State jurisdiction would apply in matters such as control.
With the accession of Denmark and Sweden to the EU in 1973 and 1995 respectively, the Commission became responsible for the management of this Agreement on behalf of those two Member States.
Following more recent developments in international fisheries law and, in particular, with the introduction of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 and the UN Fish Stocks Agreement of 1995, Norway considered that the existing agreement was inconsistent with the provisions of the Law of the Sea, particularly in regard to the provisions on control. They considered that the Agreement was not in harmony with the principles of normal Coastal State jurisdiction pursuant to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The 1966 Agreement therefore was allowed to expire on 7 August 2012.
Since August 2012, the Parties have agreed that vessels can continue to engage in fishing in the waters of the respective Parties until such time as the new Agreement enters into force.