Connick Welcomes EU/Norway Fisheries Deal for 2011 - No Irish Western Horse Mackerel or Blue Whiting transferred to Norway in the deal
The EU and Norway signed an agreement on mutual fishing arrangements for 2011 in the early hours of Saturday morning 4th December in Bergen, Norway, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
The Minister welcomed the agreement saying that "The deal agreed appears fair and equitable. It is essential that relations between the EU and Norway are in good stead in advance of further talks on management arrangements for mackerel for 2011".
Of particular interest to Ireland in this agreement is the process whereby Norway and the Community swap fishing opportunities in each others waters. Historically, Ireland has been a net contributor to this exchange as blue whiting and horse mackerel from the western stocks, where Ireland has its main fisheries was exchanged for Nordic cod where Ireland has only a very small share. The Minister said "I am happy that this year our contribution to the exchange has been substantially reduced. This year the transfers to Norway do not come from western waters stocks and Irish fishermen will not be paying for the fishing opportunities of others. This has to be seen as a successful outcome for Ireland".
The Minister went on to acknowledge the difficulties that were overcome during the course of the consultations saying " decreasing stock levels in some key stocks, aligned to divergences between the parties on some management and control arrangements presented a difficult challenge, resulting in the need for compromise on both sides. I am delighted that common sense prevailed, and am confident that the EU and Norway can now jointly focus on the important issue of the management of the mackerel fishery for 2011 which is to be discussed in Copenhagen later this week."
Iceland, following intensive efforts by both the EU and Norway, walked away from the talks on Mackerel management and set a unilateral TAC for mackerel of 138,000 tonnes for 2011. The focus of attention in Copenhagen will be to try achieve a three party management arrangement with the EU, Norway and the Faroe islands. The Minister said that "it was always Ireland's position that a four party deal including Iceland was the needed to deliver a sustainable mackerel fishery for 2011 and future years. The decision of Iceland to absent themselves from further discussions and their declared intention to fish up to 138,000t of mackerel in 2011 is completely unacceptable and is in my view reckless as it will very quickly result in the stock, which has being up to recently carefully managed on a sustainable basis, being overfished. I t is even more imperative that the remaining parties at the table agree management arrangements for this fishery for next year."
Economically, mackerel is Ireland's most important stock and the Minister stated that any deal with the Faroes must be fair and balanced and that their share must be proportionate. He went on to say that "if it is not possible to bring the Faroe islands on board for new arrangements in 2011 the EU and Norway must then take their responsibility as the major shareholders and set the appropriate fishing levels for mackerel in 2011."