Ewing calls EU-Norway fisheries deal ‘disappointing’

The Scottish Government’s Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing lamented the “disappointing” outcome of the fisheries negotiations between the EU and Norway that concluded in Bergen at the weekend.

The Scottish Government said the European Commission decided to proceed with the signing of the EU/Norway Agreement despite opposition from the UK and Ireland.

Ewing welcomed overall increases of around 16% for both cod and whiting and an overall increase of around 53% for saithe.

Ewing said: “We’re pleased that the agreement now gives certainty on quota levels on some key stocks in the North Sea next year — this is particularly important for the cod and whiting that are introduced into the landing obligation in the North Sea next year.

“However, we feel the cost for this deal is excessive, where the Commission has chosen to give away 110,000 tonnes of Blue Whiting to Norway as well as increase access to our waters for Norwegian vessels in 2017, with very little direct tangible benefit to the Scottish fishing industry.

“This is very disappointing, considering Scotland is the second largest contributor to the overall package.”

The Scottish Government said the EU/Norway agreement sets total catch levels for a number of Scotland’s key fish stocks in the North Sea whose management is shared with Norway.

The agreement also includes a complex series of exchanges of quota and access between the parties on a range of stocks — the so-called ‘balance’.

The agreement for 2017 includes a number of quota stocks in Norwegian waters that will continue to be available to the Scottish fleet in 2017.