ShapeShapeauthorShapecrossShapeShapeShapeGrouphamburgerhomeGroupmagnifyShapeShapeShapeShape

Scotland Compromised in North Sea Negotiations

SCOTLAND - The conclusion of the EU/Norway negotiations to decide quotas for jointly managed North Sea stocks for 2008 has brought a mixed bag of fortunes for Scottish fishermen.

Quotas for seven North Sea stocks were decided at these talks including, for Scotland, cod, haddock, herring and a share of the more widely dispersed blue whiting.

Cod now attracts disproportionate attention in these negotiations – its economic impact is small at a single percentage figure of Scottish overall whitefish value. However, it has become iconic in the minds of consumers. The other species are economically much more significant with haddock and herring being the mainstay stocks.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said an 11 per cent increase in North Sea cod quota was welcome a but a 15 per cent increase had been a more realistic target.

“With sustainability forming the negotiation backdrop, the science had pointed to belt tightening in most stocks. However, this is a political process with both Norway and the European Commission aiming at the best deal for itself," he explained.
He felt that Norway now has an advantage and forces the EC to seek compromise in its target setting, with each Member State pressing for their unique priorities.

The main problem is that the stocks are not linked biologically, yet the political process throws them together to agree an overall trade package, said Mr Armstrong.

"Rational consideration for individual stocks is left behind. But the well-organised UK delegation fought well within the constraints of this less than optimum process.” he added.

The final outcome for the Scottish mainstay North Sea stocks is: cod +11 per cent; haddock -15 per cent; herring -41 per cent; whiting -25 per cent; saithe +10 per cent; plaice -2.5 per cent. A small component of the wider ranging mackerel stock has been reduced by 9 per cent.

Ellen Hardy

Learn more