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27 January 2010

Stevenson Welcomes Return To Normality As EU-Norway Negotiations Conclude

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the news that a deal has at last been struck between the EU and Norway over this year’s fishing arrangements. The negotiations, which are usually concluded in advance of the December fisheries council, have now reached a conclusion at the fourth attempt.

The agreement sees a 16.5% increase in North Sea Cod quotas; an agreement on a 10 year management plan for Mackerel and agreement that long term plans for other jointly managed stocks should be developed; Harmonised starting dates for EU and Norwegian Mackerel fisheries to prevent Norwegian vessels having a competitive advantage; and a 500 tonne transfer of North Sea Whiting from Norway to the EU. However, negotiations also resulted in a 5% cut in the Mackerel total allowable catch while final quotas for North Sea Haddock and Whiting will need to be ratified by the Council of Ministers in Brussels.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I welcome the news that much of the uncertainty that has faced skippers in Banff & Buchan while these negotiations have dragged on has now been removed. It has been an extremely difficult few weeks for many in the fishing industry as they have waited for agreement to be reached.

“The uncertainty that the industry has been experiencing is a clear demonstration of the problems caused by holding short term negotiations at the end of each year rather than planning on a longer term basis and giving the industry greater stability.

“However, the fact that agreement has now been reached is a positive development and the news that an increase in North Sea Cod quotas has been decided upon will be particularly welcome. These have been difficult negotiations, but I commend members of Scotland’s fishing industry and officials who have worked hard to reach the best deal they could secure.”
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