The UK has reached an agreement with Norway and the EU over how to divide fish stocks in the North Sea next year. Fishing groups have welcomed the deal, but catch-sector bosses say it does nothing to resolve issues around access to cod-rich Norwegian waters, the BBC reports.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation hailed the UK’s ability post-Brexit to negotiate on some of Scotland’s “most important commercial stocks”.
Further talks will follow over fishing rights in Norwegian and Faroe waters.
The UK government said the agreed catch levels were worth around £190m to the fishing industry, based on historic landing prices, and argued it would provide certainty heading into the new year.
The agreement means that the UK, Norway and the EU know what share – known as total allowable catch – of six jointly-managed fish stocks they can take from the North Sea in 2022.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said the UK had felt the benefit of “being at the negotiating table in its own right” over catch limits.
A spokesman said, with stock management agreed, it was time to “move forward with the bilateral discussions with our neighbouring coastal states about fishing opportunities and access arrangements for the year ahead”.
The deal will see UK cod quota rolled over, with haddock up 5%, herring rising by a fifth, while whiting will increase by a quarter compared to 2021.
However, plaice will see a 12% reduction in allowed catch and saithe will be down by 24% on last year.
Bilateral talks to agree reciprocal rights between London and Oslo collapsed in the spring. Jane Sandell, chief executive of UK Fisheries, said the current agreement would not resolve the problem around the lack of access to Norwegian waters.
Ms Sandell said that without bilateral deals in place, UK Fisheries had lost 60% of its business.
“All this trilateral agreement does is set quotas, so it is good there is an agreement, but in terms of actual fishing opportunities it doesn’t get us anywhere further,” she said. “We’ve got 40% of the fishing opportunities this year that we had last year.”
Ministers say they “remain optimistic” a deal with Norway and the Faroe Islands for 2022 can be struck before 1 January.
UK fisheries minister Victoria Prentis said: “We are confident that this agreement has struck a balance that will benefit both our fishing industry and ensure our marine environment is healthy and viable long into the future.”
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