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EU-Norway fisheries talks
Agreement on the 2010 harvest of fish stocks jointly managed between the EU and Norway has been reached in Brussels, along with a long-term deal on the future management of mackerel, Scotland's most valuable stock.
At the fourth time of asking, 2010 Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for valuable species including North Sea Cod and Haddock were finalised.
The EU and Norway also came up with a deal on how they should best tackle Iceland over its mackerel overfish.
The headline results from the talks are:
- A 16.5 per cent quota increase in the #15 million North Sea Cod fishery
- Go ahead for a 'catch quota' initiative for North Sea Cod to continue to reward fishermen for cutting discards
- An unprecedented 500 tonne transfer of North Sea whiting from Norway to the EU as well as agreement to develop a long-term management plan for the stock
- Agreement that all the other jointly managed stocks (North Sea herring, saithe, plaice and haddock) should have their Total Allowable Catches (TACs) set by long-term management plan
- A 10-year deal for mackerel which will help towards ending uncertainties around its management, including how to tackle Iceland's massive overfishing - arrangements for Scottish vessels fishing for mackerel in Norwegian waters and vice versa have also been agreed
- Harmonised starting dates for EU and Norwegian Mackerel fisheries, to prevent Norwegian boats from having an unfair competitive edge
- A 5 per cent cut in the mackerel TAC
In a cautious welcome for the outcome of the talks, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"This was a particularly tough, complex and intense set of talks. I am proud that officials and the industry worked together to secure the best possible deal for Scottish fishermen, including an increase in North Sea Cod quota.
"No country goes home with everything they want, especially with such complex and difficult issues and so many countries involved. Our guiding principle throughout was a determination to secure a deal, but not at any price, and we refused to buckle under pressure.
"Certain elements designed to conserve vulnerable fish stocks will be unwelcome to parts of the Scottish fleet. However, we have won broad agreement between the EU and Norway on how best to tackle the serious long-term dangers to the sustainability of the Mackerel stock - potentially a major breakthrough, and cause for optimism for our fleets.
"There was a great deal at stake for both our pelagic and whitefish sectors, which support the businesses, jobs and infrastructure that are so crucial to our coastal communities. That's why I'm particularly pleased that a new long-term deal has been secured for Mackerel, which in 2009 became Scotland's most valuable stock."