Vital mackerel deal struck between EU and Norway

The deal brings a new era for the Scottish pelagic and whitefish fleet
The deal brings a new era for the Scottish pelagic and whitefish fleet

A deal has finally been struck between the EU, Norway and the Faroes bringing an end to the North Sea mackerel wars.

The completion of negotiations on North Sea fish allocations for 2014 has brought to an end months of uncertainty over catching opportunities for Scottish fishermen.

A three-party agreement between the EU, Norway and Faroes over mackerel provided the catalyst for the agreement to be quickly signed off last night, enabling Scottish fishermen to gain access into Norwegian waters with immediate effect.

Iceland declined to be involved in the current talks.

Headline figures are a 5 per cent increase in the North Sea cod quota, and 15 per cent cuts for haddock, whiting and saithe in line with the long term management plan.

However, transfer arrangements with Norway saw the cuts in haddock and whiting mitigated to 6 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

Plaice was increased by 15 per cent and North Sea herring saw a small cut of 2 per cent.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “The months of delay in reaching this stage have been unprecedented, but we are relieved that this agreement has now been achieved, enabling our fishermen to plan ahead with greater confidence.

“Many of the quota allocations agreed are in line with long-term management plans. We had hoped that there would have been a bigger increase in the North Sea cod quota, but at least a proposed cut has been fended-off.

“A cut in the cod quota at this stage would have made a mockery of the European Commission’s commitment to end discarding as it would only have led to fishermen dumping good quality marketable fish overboard, given the abundance of the stock.

“The science shows that a 5 per cent rise in the cod quota will lead to a significant increase in the stock biomass over the coming year.

“The recovery of North Sea cod is a remarkable success story but there needs to be a sensible long-term approach to the management of the stock that recognises that biomass is increasing, fishing pressure is falling and that the stock is being harvested sustainably.”