Under EU membership, rights to negotiate fishing rights in British waters were outsourced to Brussels. But Environment Secretary George Eustice said the new agreement with Norway showed the promise of an independent future.
“The agreement is testament to our commitment to acting as a cooperative independent coastal state, seeking to ensure a sustainable and a prosperous future for the whole of the UK fishing industry,” he said in a statement.
Quotas laid down in the agreement will be renegotiated annually after it takes effect on January 1st, when Britain leaves a transition period that has kept it observing EU rules since their divorce earlier this year.
Britain is trying to negotiate a new trading relationship with the EU, but non-EU member Norway is part of the bloc's single market.
Norway's Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide hailed the agreement as offering “a framework for extensive fisheries cooperation with the UK”.
“We look forward to putting in place a trilateral agreement between Norway, the UK and the EU on the management of joint fish stocks in the North Sea, once Brexit becomes a reality,” she added.
Britain's trade talks with the EU have been deadlocked on key issues including fishing rights.
But the Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday that the UK has offered a three-year transition period for European fishing fleets “as part of an 11th-hour deal sweetener”.
Catches allowed for EU fishermen around Britain's coast would be phased down between 2021 and 2024, to offer time for them to adapt to a new regime, it said.