"I am pleased that we have reached agreement with the EU on fisheries management for 2013. The EU is an important partner , and together we have taken new steps to ensure sound management of our shared resources in the North Sea and Skagerrak," says Norway's Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Lisbeth Berg-Hansen.
Controll and monitoring of the fisheries is a key part of the collaboration between Norway and the EU, and the parties have agreed that this work will be continued in 2013.
"The fisheries negotiations with the EU includes a number of sensitive issues, and this year cooperative climate was good , with both parties demonstrating great willingness to find solutions. The agreement for 2013 further cements/confirms the close, constructive collaboration that Norway has developed with the EU in the field of fisheries in recent years. which now can be further deepened in the years ahead," says Berg-Hansen.
Measures to reduce discards
Norway and the EU have agreed to establish a working group on gear technology to collect and review designs and ensure systematic development of more selective fishing equipment. The working group consists of experts and representatives of the industry, who together will identify and recommend the best selection measures. "I hope this work will result in an even better harvesting pattern and contribute to reducing discards," says the Minister.
The stock situation
The situation for cod in the North Sea remains difficult, but marine scientists are more positive than before. The total allowable catch for cod has been set at 26,475 tonnes. Norway's quota is 4,501 tonnes.
North Sea herring stock is in good condition, and the total allowable catch has been set at 478,000 tonnes, in line with the precautionary principle. This represents an 18 per cent increase from 2012. The Norwegian quota is 138,620 tonnes.
The North Sea saithe stock is in good condition and is being harvested sustainably. The parties are adhering to the management plan, and the total allowable catch for 2013 has been set at 91,220 tonnes, up from 79,315 tonnes last year. The Norwegian quota is 47,434 tonnes.
The Norway’s quota for Greenland halibut off the coast of Greenland is being reduced slightly, but this decrease has been offset by a corresponding quota increase in EU waters. The Norway’s bottom fish quota in the EU zone has been kept at the same level. The EU's cod quota in Norway’s economic zone in the Barents Sea will be 18,202 tonnes in 2013.
The parties also agreed on mackerel quotas for 2013. Norway's mackerel quota is 153,597 tonnes, and the EU mackerel quota is 336,285 tonnes for 2013.
The annual bilateral agreement between Norway and the EU is extensive and provides reciprocal fishing possibilities for a number of fish stocks. For example, management plans have been established for the shared stocks of herring, saithe, haddock and cod in the North Sea, based on recommendations from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). "The management plans shall ensure sustainable, responsible management of the stocks and help provide a stable regulatory framework for the industry. We will continue to work on developing management plans in 2013," says the Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs.
Another important element in the agreement is the exchange of fishing possibilities in each other's waters by swapping quotas. "Ensuring a good balance in quota exchanges is a challenge because of the record-high cod quota in the Barents Sea, and it has been difficult to find sufficient, real quotas for Norwegian fishermen in EU waters that are interesting for Norwegian fishermen. Nevertheless, we have managed to strike an acceptable balance," says Berg-Hansen.