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The meetings the European Union (EU) and Norway have been holding for more than 4 months finally came through safely. Both sides have signed three bilateral agreements which include the issues of quota setting in the Skagerrak and Kattegat, quota exchange between the two sides, and reciprocal access to waters for fishermen. The agreement, as explained by the EU, “will significantly limit herring catches”. The areas affected are in order “to protect the herring stock in the western Baltic”.

To manage stocks in the North Sea, which will decrease slightly, access will be reciprocal. The EU will thus have access to catch up to 85% of the pelagic stocks included in the Norwegian quota for Atlanto-Scandian herring. At the same time, Norway will have access to EU waters to fish 150,000 tons of blue whiting. “This agreement secures reciprocal access to waters and important fishing opportunities for fishers on both sides.” E.U. Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said.

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During these meetings, the EU and Norway also secured a balance of exchanges of fishing possibilities: the EU will receive 9,150 tons of Arctic cod by 2023 while transferring 74,000 tons of blue whiting to Norway.

Different species, different quotas

There are different catches and quotas that have been established. The ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas) advises The TAC (total catch) for each species.

Whiting is one example, it has been agreed to set a TAC of 676 tons in 2023 for the Skagerrak and Kattegat, which is a 27% reduction compared to 2022, although it has an open possibility to meet and makes changes in the future.

On the other hand, the plaice, the approach ICES advises that total catches in 2023 should be no more than 150,705 tonnes. This is an increase of 5.8% compared to 2022.

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Fishermen emptying their nets in Velsen, IJmuiden. Photo: European Union
Fishermen emptying their nets in Velsen, IJmuiden. Photo: European Union

In detail: the herring

“I welcome the jointly agreed measures to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks, especially for the recovery of Western Baltic herring.” Said Sinkevičius, in fact, is the worst part of the agreement.

The herring bore the brunt. Delegations agreed to set a TAC of 23,250 tonnes in the Skagerrak and Kattegat for 2023. This is a decrease of 7.1% compared to 2022. As well as that bycatches taken in industrial herring fisheries would be limited to 6,659 tons in 2023. Which, at least, would represent an extension compared to 2022. Their main objective is to protect the fry.

At the end of the meeting, the Norwegian Delegation stated that the ad hoc sharing arrangement for 2023 is greatly imbalanced in Norway’s disfavor.

Salted Atlantic herring. Photo by: Adobe Stock.
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