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EU, Norway Exchange Views on Annual Consultations for 2015

17 October 2014

EU - The Council held an exchange of views on the annual consultations between the EU and Norway under their bilateral fisheries agreement.

The first round of consultations will take place from 17 to 21 November in Bergen (Norway) and the second round from 1 to 5 December in Clonakilty (Ireland).

Most of the delegations recognised the usefulness of this agreement with Norway but would favour a cautious approach from the EU as regards TACs and other associated measures for the main jointly managed joint stocks in the North Sea.

They would also recommend a cautious approach for other stocks that it might be worthwhile to identify and use for the reciprocal exchange of quotas.

In this regard, several delegations agreed that the agreement with Norway and the Faroe Islands on the mackerel issue will facilitate the negotiations.

The main issues for the consultations this year are:

– detailed management arrangements for the seven jointly managed fish stocks in the North Sea (cod, haddock, plaice, whiting, herring, mackerel and northern shelf saithe) and Skagerrak (cod, haddock, whiting, plaice, shrimp, herring and sprat) notably involving the establishment of the TACs and quotas for the respective parties, in accordance with the long-term management plans and agreed sharing arrangements;

– possible adjustments to the long-term management plans for North Sea stocks of haddock and herring in the light of new ICES advice; and

– the exchange of reciprocal fishing possibilities in order, among other things, to enable the continuation of a number of fishing operations which are important for the fishermen of both parties, including fishing opportunities for Arcto-Norwegian cod in Norwegian waters, as well as other measures in fisheries of mutual interest. 

ICCAT annual meeting

Ministers held an exchange of views as regards the special meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) from 10 to 17 November 2014 in Genoa (Italy).

This provided an opportunity at Council level to provide guidance for the preparation of EU positions for the ICCAT meeting.

Some member states pointed out that the update of the scientific stock assessment for eastern bluefin tuna submitted with a view to preparing the annual ICCAT meeting confirmed that the measures imposed on fishermen for many years had been correctly implemented and showed a recovery of the bluefin tuna stock.

They asked that the total allowable catch (TAC) for this year be raised while other member states were in favour of maintaining a cautious approach, considering the uncertainties in the scientific opinion. On 8 July 2014, the Council adopted a decision on the position to be adopted, on behalf of the European Union, in the ICCAT.

This "general mandate" applies to annual and special ICCAT meetings from 2014 until 2019, sets out the principles for the EU position and lays down the process regarding year-to-year specification of the EU position to be taken at ICCAT.

In 2006 ICCAT adopted a 15-year recovery plan for Eastern bluefin tuna. The plan was subsequently modified in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and considerably revised in 2012.

The latest revision concerned, in addition to control issues, the TAC for 2013 and thereafter, which was fixed at 13 400 tonnes applying the established quota distribution key.

At the 2013 annual meeting the TAC was maintained at 13 400 tonnes, but more flexibility was introduced for fishing bluefin tuna in non-spawning coastal waters. At the 2013 meeting, the EU did not oppose a roll-over of the TAC for western bluefin tuna, although it did advocate lowering it.

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