European fisheries policy

Einar Sigurd Olsen (1876-1850). Danish Cutter Rexona in Frederiskhaven, 1915. Photo: Association Rexona.

The fisheries policy of the European Union is a tricky file. The agricultural and fisheries politics are among the most controversial issues of the European Union. Although the share of GNP is limited, agricultural and fisheries policy and discussions are prominently present. Wars, conflicts and European dispute settlement about fisheries go back to the 12th century. It is not a co-incidence that one of the first disputes settled by the International Court of Justice in The Hague concerned a conflict about fisheries, between the United Kingdom and Norway. The origin of the conflict went back to the 17th century, when British fishermen made the first incursions in the waters near the Norwegian coast. The question was whether the lines laid down by a Decree in 1935 for the purpose of delimiting the Norwegian fisheries zone were drawn correctly. The breadth of the belt of Norwegian territorial sea was not an issue and was acknowledged by both countries. The conflict showed (economic) sentiments, which have their roots in an agricultural past and fisheries tradition. The conflict even provoked the arrest of British trawlers in 1948 and 1949 by the Norwegian navy. The International Court of Justice resolved this conflict in a peaceful way (Fisheries, United Kingdom vs Norway, 18 December 1951, C.I.J. Recueil, 1951, p. 116).