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Brussels, 9 December 2009

Fisheries: EU/Norway consultations for 2010 – a real missed opportunity

After several weeks of negotiations between the European Union and Norway on bilateral fisheries arrangements for 2010, including arrangements on mackerel, the two Parties, at their latest meeting in Bergen (Norway), were unable to agree mutually satisfactory arrangements for their fishermen. The Commission deeply regrets that, despite all the efforts made to reach agreement with Norway, the respective approaches of the two Parties at this stage have proved to be irreconcilable.

As far as the exchanges of fishing possibilities for 2010 are concerned, the Commission considers that the Parties were very close to reaching an agreement. However, there remains a difference of approach between the Parties as regards the outstanding issue of the mackerel management for 2010. In the negotiations, the European Union has offered increased access for Norway to fish mackerel in EU waters, without asking for compensation by Norway.

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg stated: “This was a missed opportunity to conclude a balanced deal and commented that the same cooperative spirit that had guided the discussions last year to reduce wasteful discards, seemed absent.”

In view of the long standing arrangements between the Parties, the Commission is surprised that a provisional arrangement which would have allowed the respective Parties to continue their fishing operations without interruption in one another’s waters in early 2010, was not acceptable to Norway. As a result, EU fishing companies and vessels, which have no link to the mackerel issue, will be impacted upon negatively, and indeed important Norwegian fisheries on blue whiting and other species, are likewise affected since they will be excluded from EU waters.

Notwithstanding this regrettable situation, the Commission is confident that there will be solidarity of purpose among Member States to assist those most affected. In view of the common interest in harmonious fishing relations between the Union and Norway, the Commission is confident of an early resumption of negotiations in the beginning of 2010.

See also Memo/09/506 and IP/09/1801 for further background on EU/Norway negociations.

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