The negotiations commenced in Clonakilty on Tuesday morning and were hosted by Ireland, who in its role of Presidency of the EU, co-ordinated the EU position in these international negotiations.
The negotiations agreed:
- the total allowable catch (TAC) for important stocks that are managed by both EU and Norway.
- the sharing of these stocks between EU and Norway
- the transfer of quotas between EU and Norway as part of a balanced deal in the interests of EU and Norwegian fishermen.
The negotiations covered many stocks in both the North Sea, the western waters around Ireland and Scotland and stocks in Norwegian waters.
Issues of particular interest to Ireland included the setting a total allowable catch for the 1 billion Mackerel fishery and the sharing of that between EU, Norway and the other participants in the Mackerel fishery. The agreement reached this morning allocated 90.38 per cent of the TAC for Mackerel to the European Union and Norway, which is a continuation of the normal sharing arrangement which EU and Norway have applied in recent years.
This arrangement does not reward Iceland or the Faroe Islands with any larger share of the Mackerel stock, which they both have been demanding in association with their overfishing of this stock in recent years. Minister Coveney said: I do not accept that Iceland or Faroes should have been rewarded for their overfishing by EU and Norway granting them larger quotas at these negotiations. EU and Norway have acted responsibly by cutting their own catches by 15 per cent in response to scientific advice on the impact of Icelandic and Faroes overfishing on the Mackerel stock. Iceland and Faroes need to come back to the table with much more realistic expectations of the share of the stock they can expect, if we are to get the mackerel fishery back into a sustainable position in the interest of all parties
Minister Coveney also said: I welcome the agreed 64 per cent increase in the Blue Whiting Total Allowable Catch to 643,000 tonnes for 2013. This fishery is important for our fishermen and for our fish factories who process both Irish, Norwegian and Scottish catches of this species for human consumption exports.
The Minister added that he also welcomed the fact that the percentage of Blue Whiting TAC which is transferred by EU to Norway as a traditional part of this deal has been negotiated down from 7.7 per cent last year to 7 per cent this year which will increase the amount of Blue Whiting available to our fishermen. The agreement signed in Clonakilty paves the way for the final negotiations on access for EU vessels to Norwegian waters and Norwegian vessels to EU waters to be concluded in a final meeting in London next Tuesday.