North Sea divers turn down 5.3m kr damages

Norway's government has offered a group of North Sea divers an additional 1.7 million kroner ($280,000) in damages, as it seeks to end a long-running dispute over long-term injuries they sustained in the early days of the country's offshore oil industry.

North Sea divers turn down 5.3m kr damages
A still from the film Pioneer, based on the experiences of the first generation of North Sea divers. Photo: Pioneer
However, Henning Haug, the head of the of Offshore Divers Union, has said his members will refuse the offer. 
"The divers wanted a quick answer, and this is what we have given them," said Norwegian labour minister Robert Eriksson. "I think it's a good deal." 
The divers will now each be eligible to receive 5.3 million kroner each in compensation for the long term health effects of their work. 
Many claim to have suffered serious health problems, such as lung disease, encephalopathy, reduced hearing and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as a result of the dives they undertook from 1960 up until the 1980s. 
Erik Johnsrud, a lawyer for the Offshore Divers Union accused Eriksson of "shoddy" treatment. 
"The way the minister has handled this case is extraordinary," he said. "He said that there would be negotiations, and then he comes up with an offer of 1.7 million, and just says, "this is what you get.'" 
Johnsrud's said that his calculations suggested that each diver had on average sustained about eight million kroner of damage. 
"They are prepared to receive less than eight million, but this is low, and presented in a shoddy way," he said. 
In December, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the Norwegian authorities had violated the divers' right to a private and family life — Article 8 in the Human Rights Act — by failing to provide them sufficient information on the health impacts of the rapid decompression used in their dives.  

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Norway fails to agree fishing quota deal with United Kingdom

Norway and Britain have ended their negotiations for a bilateral deal on fishing quotas without reaching an agreement, the Norwegian government announced Friday.

Norway fails to agree fishing quota deal with United Kingdom
Boats moored in Bergens harbour. Photo by Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash

Both sides had mutually agreed that it was “time to put an end to the negotiations,” the government said in a statement.

“Brexit has undoubtedly created a number of challenges for the Norwegian fishing industry. It has proved extremely difficult to reach an agreement with the United Kingdom on zone access and quota exchange for 2021. When it comes to mutual access to fish in each other’s waters on common stocks, the distance was too great for us to reach an agreement,” Norway’s fisheries minister Odd Emil Ingerbrigsten said.

“Norway has had a firm stance throughout the negotiations in consultation with the fishing industry,” the fishing minister added.

This means that Norwegian fishermen will not be able to fish in British waters and their British counterparts will not be able to fish in Norwegian waters this year.

In March, the EU, Britain and Norway reached a three-way agreement, the first since Brexit, for the overall level of allowable catches in the North Sea.

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But the three parties still had to reach bilateral agreements on quota exchange and access to each other’s fishing grounds.

While Oslo and Brussels reached such an agreement, the EU and Norway still had to find common ground with Britain.

As a compromise was not reached with London by the deadline set at the end of March, the EU adopted temporary quotas until July 31 for waters shared with Britain.

Tensions have resurfaced in recent days, with European fishermen complaining about London’s tardiness in issuing fishing permits for the zone off the British coast.