Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

Oslo and Brussels end mackerel spat

  • Norwegian boat in Tromso harbour (Photo: EUobserver)

Norway and the European Union have reached agreement on fish quotas after a lengthy and at times choppy negotiation process.

The deal struck on Tuesday night includes a ten-year management plan for mackerel - the most valuable fish in the North Sea - with both sides offered expanded access to each other's waters to fish for the species.

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Quotas for the fish will however be reduced by five percent in return for the long-term agreement. Deals are normally made on an annual basis.

The pact also saw agreement on those fish stocks managed by both the EU and Norway, including cod, haddock, whiting, herring and plaice, with an 16 percent increase in the total cod catch for the European, largely Scottish side and a 15 percent reduction in whiting and haddock.

The deal was reached after an unheard of six weeks of negotiations, four rounds of talks that fell apart and a final week-long session in Brussels.

In December, just before the EU's fisheries council was due to set the fishing quotas for this year, the two sides ended up kicking each other out of their respective fishing waters after talks in Bergen, Norway, hit the buffers over the issue of access to mackerel for 2010 in the North sea, stalling on the subject of Norwegian access to fish for a portion of its mackerel quota in EU waters.

Scottish Fishermen's Federation head Bertie Armstrong, cautiously welcomed the deal.



"The problem right from the start was access for Norwegian vessels to complete fishing their mackerel quota and what we have got is a ten-year bilateral agreement to continue to fish mackerel sustainably," he said in a statement.



"The detail of the plan won't be to everyone's liking, but we now have a plan in place that will allow everybody to turn their minds to dealing with Iceland and their ridiculous behaviour with regard to the catching of mackerel."

The agreement now allows both Brussels and Oslo to unite to tackle the sensitive subject of Icelandic overfishing of mackerel.

Since the economic crisis crashed the Icelandic economy, the country's fishermen have massively expanded their mackerel catch.

Fisheries management is widely regarded as likely to be the biggest sticking point between Brussels and Reykjavik once EU accession talks start for the north Atlantic nation.

Letter

Oslo and Brussels end mackerel spat

Norway and the EU have the right to fish for mackerel in their respective jurisdictions and Iceland has the same right in Icelandic jurisdiction, writes Sigurdur Sverrisson of The Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners.

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