Berg-Hansen ‘disappointed’ after talks collapse
Norwegian Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen is expressing disappointment following last week’s failure to reach a bilateral fisheries agreement for 2010 with the European Union.
Berg-Hansen said the EU chose to break the agreement for 2009 by halting the Norwegian mackerel fishery in the EU waters, which has lead to “a path of conflicts.”
“Our approach has been constructive, and we have gone to great lengths to reach an agreement. My negotiators have been sitting in Bergen working overtime, but unfortunately the negotiations ended by breaking down,” said Berg-Hansen.
“One of the consequences of the breakdown of the negotiations is that Norway and the EU will not fix the total allowable catches for joint stocks in the North Sea and Skagerrak,” she explained. “Although we are now without a bilateral agreement, I would like to underline that Norway will take its responsibilities and will fix the quotas in Norwegian waters on the basis of scientific advice.”
After several rounds of negotiations, talks collapsed in Brussels last week primarily over North Sea mackerel, as the two parties were unable to agree on an arrangement that satisfied fishermen on each side.
This week, the EU fisheries council is meeting in Brussels to hammer out fishing quotas for 2010, but last week’s breakdown will prevent the EU from setting quotas in waters it shares with Norway.
Until a compromise is reached, Norwegian fishermen will be excluded from EU waters, and EU fishermen will be prohibited from Norwegian waters. Cod, haddock, plaice, whiting, herring and mackerel are among the species harvested in the North Sea.
The EU said last week it’s “confident” that talks will resume at the beginning of 2010.