EU-Norway quota talks collapse
Negotiations between the European Commission and Norway over 2010 bilateral fisheries arrangements, including quotas, broke down in Brussels on Wednesday.
According to the EC, the sticking point was North Sea mackerel, as the two parties were unable to agree on an arrangement that satisfied fishermen on each side. The EC said it offered increased access to Norway to fish mackerel in European Union waters, without asking for compensation. Mackerel is mainly fished on the EU side by Scottish fishermen.
But 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 EC said it’s “confident” that talks will resume at the beginning of 2010.
EC Fisheries Minister Joe Borg expressed disappointment at the outcome. “This was a missed opportunity to conclude a balanced deal,” he said. “The same cooperative spirit that had guided the discussions last year to reduce wasteful discards seemed absent.”
Norwegian Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen also expressed disappointment, adding that she wanted to see a long-term deal with fixed quotas and mutual access across EU and Norwegian waters.
Bertie Armstrong, CEO of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said failure to reach an agreement after five weeks of talks may further add to the challenges Scottish fishermen are facing.
“At this stage it is too early to assess what the breakdown in these talks will mean for Scottish fishermen in 2010, and it is possible that the current arrangements will be rolled over into next year,” he said. “However, the failure in the negotiations does add extra uncertainty in what is already a very difficult situation for Scottish fishermen. It is now more vital than ever that a fair and sensible arrangement is agreed at next week’s Fish Council meeting.”