Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs has welcomed the four agreements concluded last week with Norway, which form the beginning of a new framework of bilateral relations based on reducing fishing effort, improving control measures and ensuring sustainable management of the shared fishing resources.
This was made possible by the positive contribution of the fishing industry on both sides, as well as by the constructive attitude of both parties. The agreements relate to:
(1) the allocation and access to blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring stocks,
(2) the lifting of the current ban on the landing of herring by EU vessels in Norwegian ports,
(3) the transit of fisheries products from EU vessels through Norway and
(4) access for Sweden to a mackerel fishery in Norwegian waters.
Final arrangements for blue whiting will be made at the level of the coastal States at a meeting in Oslo on 15-16 December. As regards other common issues, the EU and Norway reached agreement some ten days ago (See IP/05/1526).
Commissioner Joe Borg said: "Clearly, the close and constructive co-operation between the European Union and Norway is proving very fruitful. This is good news for the protection of the fish stocks concerned and the future of the fleets that fish them."
The agreements reached between the EU and Norway are as follows:
A much needed agreement was reached on the future access arrangements between Norway and the Community for the blue whiting fisheries in the North-East Atlantic. This will pave the way for an agreement on long-term management with the other coastal States concerned which will at long last put this fishery on a truly sustainable basis. The other coastal States concerned are Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Because of their fishing activities, the Russian Federation and Greenland are associated in the negotiations.
The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, and Norway have agreed that 61% of each party's TAC, to be set under a future coastal State agreement, can be caught in the waters of the other party. Thus, EU vessels will have access to fish up to 61% of their catch limit in the Norwegian exclusive economic zone, or in the Fishery Zone around Jan Mayen. In return, Norway will be granted access to fish up to 61% of its catch limit in those areas of the North Sea which are currently covered by the general bilateral agreement which has been in force between the two partners since 1980. The enhanced provisions for control and enforcement, as set in the agreement of 2 December 2005, will be applied in these fisheries.
Without an agreement, catches of blue whiting have increased substantially in the past ten years. Thus, landings rose some 650,000 tonnes, in 1997, to around 2.4 million in 2004. Up till now, the catches for this year amount to over 1.8 million tonnes.
Atlanto-Scandian (Norwegian spring-spawning) herring
The two Parties also reached agreement on Atlanto-Scandian (Norwegian spring-spawning) herring. Under this agreement, EU fleets will be able to fish 100% of their quota in Norwegian waters, in 2006, in exchange for reciprocal access for Norwegian vessels to fish the same number of tonnes in Community waters. For 2006, the EU quota will amount to 62,000 tonnes. The agreement will also promote sustainable management of the herring stock and will be valid for one year.
Landing in Norwegian ports
There was also a much welcome development on the question of landing of herring by EU vessels which will now be able to land 100% of their Atlanto-Scandian herring catch in Norwegian ports. This will greatly facilitate the activities of the vessels concerned as it will make their landing trips considerably shorter and more economically viable.
Crucial progress was also achieved in transit arrangements in relation to fisheries products. Thus, Norway has agreed to open up transit through its territories for fish catches (or consequent processed fisheries products) taken by EU vessels. Up till now, EU vessels have had the fish they landed in Norway for transport to the Union considered as imported catches. Together with the opening up of Norwegian ports to EU vessels, these new transit arrangements will also help ease economic pressures on the sector.
Norway and the Community have also resolved the disagreement over Sweden's access to fish 1,865 tonnes of mackerel each year in the Norwegian zone of the North Sea. This disagreement has been outstanding since Swedish accession to the Union in 1995. The Commission welcomes the resolution of this situation, which will greatly facilitate the working conditions of the Swedish coastal fleet.